Voices of Good Friday

Voices of Good Friday

The last part of the story of Jesus is called The Passion. There are at least nine significant moments in it. The first is the voice of hope when Jesus sings a song with his friends, walks out into the night, is enveloped by the power of the curse1a, betrayed and executed.1 This is followed by the voice of desperation when Peter tries to kill a man;2of failure when the rooster crows and Peter goes out to weep;3 and of self-pity when Judas hangs himself.4

Then we have the voice of apathy, when the soldiers—having finished their work—play dice for Jesus’ clothes. This is echoed in our world when, having finished our ‘life’s work,’ we cash in our superannuation, buy a big caravan and drive round and round Australia until we die. The next voice speaks to that.5

Number six, the voice of ancient prophecy is present in the memories of all the Jewish people who are gathered around the site of the killing. It assumes that sooner or later they (and we) will all come to this place. It was already in their scriptures and said things like, ‘There’s an evil that I’ve seen under the sun, and it lies heavy upon men: a man to whom God gives wealth, possessions and honour, so that he lacks nothing of all he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them: a stranger enjoys them. … even though he should live a thousand years twice told …all is vanity.’5a Then, in the midst of these dark writings the voice speaks of a great hope, ‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light … for to us a child is born …’6 Later this child is described as a Suffering Servant, ‘The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all … He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is lead to the slaughter.’


Seventh is the voice of love—of sacrifice and confession—when Jesus is nailed to a Roman cross, mysteriously breaks the power of the curse, unhinges the darkness and causes death to begin working backwards.7

 

Eighth is the scary voice of silence when there is darkness over the land for three hours and Jesus says, ‘My God, my God—why did you forsake me?’ Many of us, having experienced the voice of love, think that’s all we need but love has a good friend and the scary sound takes us to her if we allow it.8

Ninth is the voice of faith: a cry for help, when the thief says, “Jesus, remember me ..!” and what is true of Jesus became real in him because he has surrendered himself. A fact that Jesus asserts when he says, ‘… you’ll be with me in paradise this very day,’ and which he later confirmed when he rose from the dead and said, ‘Why are you so disturbed? Why do these questions come up in your hearts? Look at my hands and feet; it is really me myself. Touch me and see! Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones like you can see I have.’9

Most of us know five of those voices well. The drawn sword reminds us of times when we made a violent effort to fix a problem. The rooster crowing late at night reminds us of when we failed. The suicidal thoughts when we felt sorry for ourselves. The awful silence when we screamed at heaven. The lure of mindless amusement when life seemed a sick joke. But we forget about the three voices embodied in Jesus himself at the beginning, middle and end of the passion, which—according to Jesus—transform ordinary life into eternal life (in the here and now as well as in the future).10

 

These are what make Easter a way of life. So why not stop for a moment and choose to hope even if things look hopeless. Instead of getting discouraged, stoned or drunk, go for a lonely walk along a beach, read a poem or play some music and sing: hoping against all hope. Then, rather than just allowing this to be a pathetic romanticisation of despair, take the ultimate gamble and cry out to your Maker, expecting that if hope means anything it means the love and faith of Easter resurrection!  So admit your pride, nail it to the crucifix and make that your confession and surrender. Lastly, face the fact that you need this saviour to save you, and say, “Jesus remember me!” allowing the unhinging of the powers of darkness and the beginning of his resurrection life in you now.

 

 

1aLuke 22:53 & Galatians 3:13

 

1Matt 26:29-30

 

2John 18:10

 

3Mark 14:72

 

4Matthew 27:5

 

5John 19:23,24

 

5aEcclesiastes 6: 1 – 6

 

6Isa 9 & 53

 

7Matthew 27:33-35 & 1Peter 2:24

 

8Matthew 27:45

 

9Luke 23:42,43 &  Luke 24:38,39

 

10Luke 10: 25 – 37

3Mark 14:72