A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

 PSALM 22

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

ISAIAH 52:13—53:12

HEBREWS 10:16–25

GOSPEL: JOHN 19:17-30

SERMON                                                                                                     Pastor Chris Halverson

How can we call this Friday good?

This Friday of all Fridays.

This Friday in which our Lord, our God—was tortured and died.

More than died, was murdered—murdered on a cursed tree.

This sweet man, who healed the sick,

preached good news to the poor,

brought tax collectors and sinners into the kingdom of God,

and taught us humility, servanthood, and love.

This sweet man Jesus, dead.

How can we call this Friday good?

Let us pray.

 

How can we call this Friday good?

It is good because the message of Christ is proclaimed—even if unintentionally.

It is good, as well, because Jesus continues to act—even when all that remains for him to act with is his lips—his final words.

 

There is a famous saying, the arch of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

In the crucifixion in John’s gospel the universe bends toward proclamation—proclamation of Jesus as Lord—as the fulfillment of scripture.

 

Firstly, Pilate becomes an unintentional evangelist—a herald of Christ’s kingship.

We sometimes say Jesus was crowned as king most clearly on the cross—he is after all a very different kind of King—and we see this in today’s gospel lesson.

Pilate takes the accusation hurled at Jesus, that Jesus is attempting to be King of the Jews.

This accusation which would replace Heror and threaten Governor Pilate’s position

Pilate takes that accusation and mocks Jesus with it—writing “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews,” on the cross.

A strange coronation for sure, but a coronation none the less.

And more than that, it is written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek—proclaiming to anyone who might pass by that Jesus is King.

Think of this in modern terms—Pilate has written “King of the Jews” over Christ’s head in Mandarin, English, and Hindi.

Christ’s kingship is written in the majority of the languages used in the world, even as he dies.

Secondly, the soldiers, stealing his clothing—stealing the clothing of a dying man—realize when they get to his cloak, that it would be no value to anyone shredded, so they dice for it—they cast lots, to see who wins this tunic.

And those of you who were here on Maundy Thursday, and those who paid attention to our Psalm today, know that this casting of lots echoes the 18th verse of the 22nd Psalm.

It’s as if these soldier’s actions are pointing to Jesus as this figure who, ultimately, will be vindicated,

will be bowed down to

and on whose account the earth will turn to the Lord.

Yes, the universe points to Jesus as king and cause for rejoicing—even as he dies at Calvary.

Just as on Palm Sunday if the crowd had been silenced the rocks themselves would have sung Jesus’ praises/

so too today, Jesus is praised by actions that should be condemnation for him… Pilate’s mockery and the soldiers’ theft.

 

How can we call Good Friday good?

Jesus continues to act—even if only with words.

He sees his mother

knows the depths of her sorrow. She is watching her baby boy from Bethlehem,

her beloved child,

killed.

There are no words we may speak that rightly soothe a mother losing a son,

a parent losing their child.

Yet, from the cross Jesus gives succor to his mother and to the beloved disciple as well.

He gives her back a son,

he gives him a mother.

Somehow, in the midst of the tragedy of Good Friday he gives them both a home.

 

Then, he cries out that he thirsts,

a logical statement from parched lips and a dehydrated body on the cross.

The full physicality of Christ is before us.

They sometimes say the Gospel of John abhor the flesh—that it calls for a superhuman Christ—a Logos—a Word—not so much enfleshed and incarnate, but visiting for a little while.

These folk clearly haven’t heard these words, “I Thirst.”

And it says so much. This is no play acting on God’s part

no God takes us seriously

takes the body seriously

takes physical needs seriously. Seriously enough to show up and die for us. To thirst, to thirst for us.

 

Finally, Christ proclaims, “It is finished.”

On Good Friday, Jesus’ work for us is done.

The Word has become flesh at birth, the Lamb of God declared at baptism,

disciples called,

temples cleansed,

teachers taught,

dividing lines destroyed,

sick healed,

preaching done,

people fed,

dead resurrected,

feet washed…

It’s like a to do list all checked off. Amongst the brutality of Good Friday—the badness of this day—God’s good work is fulfilled—it is finished.

 

How can we call this Friday good?

Because the world pointed to Jesus and because Jesus acted for the sake of the world. Amen.

 

HYMN of the DAY               “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”              red book # 351

BIDDING PRAYER

“Beneath the Cross of Jesus”                           red book # 338

GATHERING AROUND the CROSS                   

“There in God’s Garden”                               red book # 342

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