Reading: Luke 23. 32-43
32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals – one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.’
36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.’
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
Good Friday is a difficult day for us all, as Christians. There seems to be no reason why it is called Good Friday. But, Good Friday is good, only because Christ showed his great love for us on the cross. However, it was a terribly cruel day we can imagine, as Jesus, the Son of God, had to suffer all those cruelty on the cross and died. Here we need to notice the mockery spread out in this horrible event.
We see, at the heart of this picture of the cross is the mocking of Jesus as king of the Jews. Firstly, being crucified with other criminals was mocking, as it showed that he was dying the death of the criminal. It was in mockery that he was hailed as king at last. And, his royal placard was announcing his kingship, as king of the Jews. But, it was in fact his criminal charge, which explained his cruel death. All these settings were well weaved in mockery. Not only this, but also, we see people around the cross mocking him. Religious leaders, soldiers, and by-passers hurled insults and mocked him, saying ‘If you are the Messiah, if you are the king of the Jews’.
We know well that being mocked is painful. It is another form of torturing, mental and spiritual torture. But, he suffered all those dreadful pains on the cross, agonising humiliation, total abandonment, and horror on his own. He carried them all in his body, and died. Yes, he offered his life freely, and willingly in the conviction that, through his dying, we might truly live. He died that we might live? How on earth this could happen? Who on earth ever did this paradox? And, why?
The answer is:
It was to show us how much he loved us. And, it was to show us how to live our lives if we wanted to follow him. He wants us to take up our crosses and follow him, humbling ourselves, forgiving those who hate us, accepting and embracing those who don’t look like us. It’s because they, too, are the ones whom Jesus loved as much as he died on the cross. He showed no favouritism. He showed no prejudice, but loved us all whoever we are.
And now, as his followers, he wants us to nail down on the cross our greed, our selfishness, our arrogance and pride, and our indifference, and follow him as his witnesses. In doing so, we are not to make his death null and void. Amen.
Prayer of Intercession
Living God, in so many ways this is the blackest of days, recalling the darkest of moments – a day on which hearts were broken and faith tested to the limit, a day of appalling suffering and agonising death, a day when all hell wad let loose and love seemed overwhelmed. Yet we can call this day ‘Good Friday’, for in all of that horror you were there. In the despair, in the pain, in the humiliation, in the sorrow, you were supremely at work, demonstrating the immensity of your love. Living God, as we recall those terrible yet wonderful events, give us new insight into what you did that day, for us and for all, and guide us to pray for others.
So, we pray for all those who suffer today as the result of the actions of others; the victims of greed, violence, warfare, oppression, and injustice.
And, we bring before you our brothers and sisters, from every land and race, who are suffering today. Especially, at this time of the unprecedented crisis of pandemic, we pray for those who have lost their loved ones due to the coronavirus.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Lord, we pray for those who know the suffering of total despair: for the terminally ill, and for the depressed and those who are isolated at this time of social distancing.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Lord, we pray that you may fill each one of us with the life of your Spirit, so that we may respond to the calls that you give, and follow your Son on his healing, teaching, forgiving, and accepting, until the end of our lives, and into life everlasting with you. In the name of our crucified Saviour, our Risen and Living Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen