The journey to this moment, began with those first stories of Advent. The angels that told Mary and Joseph that they would have a son. We don’t think much about Good Friday while singing Christmas carols.
But we began to clue in to where Jesus was headed when he went down the mountain of transfiguration into the valley of Lent.
From temptation in the wilderness, to secret meetings with the Pharisee Nicodemus as night, to Jacob’s well and the woman who had had 5 husbands, to the blind man who didn’t know who had healed him, to Mary and Martha’s grief on the road to Bethany… as Jesus uncovered our fears and anxieties in intimate encounters week after week… there were signs, signs that something bigger than just our issues and personal sufferings was being confronted. Jesus was passing by the particularities of our humanity. Jesus passed by because he was headed somewhere else.
Jesus was going to contend with something much bigger, something that was not about us individually… but something that is about us collectively.
And by the time we stood with the crowds waving palm branches, singing “Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”…singing “Save us now, Son of David” there was no doubt that we would find ourselves here.
There was no doubt that the disciples would betray and deny him.
There was no doubt that the mobs would demand crucifixion
There was no doubt political and religious leaders would use the outrage for their own benefit.
There was no doubt that the empire would coldly and ruthlessly order execution.
There was no doubt that the place Jesus was going to was the cross.
We could see that today was where Jesus was going because Good Friday we have seen before.
We have seen the betrayals and denials of friends and family.
We watch the angry mobs crying out for vengeance on cable news.
We witness daily political and religious and business leaders use our outrage to turn a profit or gain a political win or entrench the power of religious institutions.
We see an empire that treats people coldly and ruthlessly even as we live and thrive because of that same empire.
We have no doubt that Jesus could end up on cross, because people like Jesus always do.
The ones who speak out.
The ones who risk themselves for others.
The ones who fight for goodness over self-benefit, justice over victory, compassion over power.
The ones who show warmth amidst coldness, who show love over ruthlessness.
We know today, we know Good Friday well, because in our world, there is also Good Monday, Good Tuesday, Good Wednesday and Thursday, Good Saturday, and Sunday.
Jesus’ journey to Good Friday is a common journey.
And it isn’t.
Because we remember the angels of Advent and Christmas, because we remember the voice of God thundering over the waters of Baptism and on the mountain of Transfiguration.
And then even though we have seen this story often enough, of betray and denial, of outraged mobs, and manipulative leaders, and cold uncaring Empires… beneath the cross we finally see the thing that Jesus has been pulling us towards all along.
The truth that Jesus tried to remind the tempter of.
The questions that Jesus explained to Nicodemus
The living water that Jesus gave to the woman at the well.
The sight that Jesus revealed to the blindman.
The buried mercy that Jesus opened up for Martha, Mary and Lazarus.
Today Jesus reveals to us not another person doomed to die on a cross.
Today, Jesus reveals God, willing to die on a cross.
And thus begins the new thing that God is doing.
The new thing in oldest of stories.
In oh so common of human deaths for the sake our failing humanity, our sinfulness exposed in every way imaginable…. in the ultimate hubris, our belief if we just killed God we could be God.
God shows us life by dying.
Jesus shows us the beginning accomplished through the end.
Jesus shows us mercy given by a God who simply won’t be pushed away any longer.
Jesus shows us the love and grace that will be born, and live and pass by and come close and be just like us. How this love and grace ties humanity and all creation together on the cross.
Jesus shows us the completion of the journey where God does the thing that we have refused to do since Adam and Eve left the garden….
God joins the fallen to the divine, joins the sinful to the forgiven, joins the finite to the infinite, permanence of death to constant renewal of life.
Jesus shows us a God that dies just like us.
A God comes to us and finds us in every place we can possibly go, even in death.
So that we will live, and death will not be our end anymore.
No… we don’t think about Good Friday while we sing Christmas carols.
But God does.
The cross was where the incarnation, where God come in flesh, was going from the beginning.
The cross is the place where God was going to redeem creation all along.
The cross is the place and Good Friday is the day when the old thing – the power of sin and death –
When the old thing was finished.
And Jesus made all things new.
One thought on “When the Old Thing was Finished”
Thank you for this. Beautifully written as usual and quite inspiring. “God shows us life by dying” . . . Yes. Yes, He does.
Here’s a little present for you that I ran across on someone’s website a few days ago. It’s so uplifting. I can barely make it through the part where she sings “beautiful savior . . .” Without crying. Enjoy and thank you for your writings. I still go back and read the ones you wrote at Christmas. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=r54sTcBCPkQ
PS have a blessed Easter with your wife, children, family and friends.