PASSION GOSPEL: John 18:1–19:42
*Note: Sermons are posted in the manuscript draft that they were preached in, and may contain typos or other errors that were resolved in my delivery. See the Sherwood Park Lutheran Facebook Page for video
It has been a long road to this moment.
From the mountain of Transfiguration down into the Lenten wilderness.
From the tempter to Nicodemus’s questions.
From the dark night to the woman at the well in the noon day sun.
From Jacob’s well to the blindman not knowing who had healed him.
From a community in chaos to a community grieving at Bethany.
From Mary, Martha and a raised Lazarus to the road to Jerusalem covered in palm branches.
From shouts of Hosanna to the table of the Lord.
From Betrayal at night to Golgatha by noon.
And now from Lent to Holy Week to the bottom of it all on the cross.
The journey to Good Friday is one that takes a lifetime to prepare for. It is one that begins long before Transfiguration, with Angels and Pregnant Virgins and picturesque mangers.
It begins with a garden paradise and exile from Eden.
It beings with the words “Let there be Light.”
Good Friday was where this story was going since the beginning.
And now that we are here, now that cross has been planted on Calvary, now that Jesus has been nailed to the tree, now that we have born witness to the execution of the one sent to save…
We ask why? What does it all mean? Who is at fault?
It feels like it could be our fault. Maybe it could be our mistake.
We did choose sin in the garden.
We did refuse to repent.
We did choose to sin again after repenting.
We do put ourselves first.
We choose ourselves before others.
We harm our neighbour
With our greed, and indifference, and unwillingness, and selfishness.
With our hoarding and racism and wall building and excuses.
With our celebration of power and wealth and control.
And we harm creation
With our callousness and entitlement and refusal to care
With our destructive actions and war making and striving for more
With our consuming everything and anything that can be consumed.
We do all of that and more.
So nailing the Messiah to the cross doesn’t feel out of the question.
It feels like the cross is our fault, our mistake, our consequence.
And if that was all that Good Friday was about, if Good Friday was only asking why?
Asking how we got here from Creation and Eden, from Angels and Mangers, from Transfiguration and Lent…
Then maybe we would have our answer.
But this is not all that Good Friday means.
Humanity’s best nailing Jesus to the cross is not all there is.
Humanity using our great power to put God to death is not the last stop of this long journey.
We ask why? What does this mean?
And God has a different answer.
God knew that Good Friday was coming from the beginning.
God saw the cross in Eden.
God knew that we would try to put Messiah to death.
From the Angels singing of his birth
From voice speaking from the heavens at the mount of Transfiguration
God knew that Golgotha was where this long road would lead.
But God also knows that Good Friday is not the end.
Good Friday is not the last stop of the journey.
The cross is not the last page of the story.
On this day God is doing something new.
The cross – the pinnacle of humanity’s sinful and death dealing ways, Will be God’s new beginning.
Where we fail to repent, God will turn us around.
Where put ourselves first, God will give up all Godself for our sake.
Where we harm our neighbour and ourselves God will heal and restore that which is broken.
Where we use our great power of death.
God will use God’s great power.
God’s power to keep on going even when things seem to have ended
God’s power of new beginnings when there seemed to be nothing.
God’s power of life that will stand higher than death on a cross.
So yes it has been a long road to this moment.
And yes it might feel like the culmination of everything we have done that brought us here.
But for God, Good Friday is not the end.
For God, the cross is not the final destination.
For the God that spoke life into being, the cross is transformed.
Transformed into a new creation.
A New creation for God’s people created a new.
For God, Good Friday is the beginning.