Today’s texts are from Luke 22:39-53, Matthew 26:57-68, and John 19:28-37.
It’s all led to this: Death. One year of Jesus’ ministry has led to this moment. One year of bringing about the kingdom of God. One year of healing the sick, giving sight to the blind, making the lame walk, driving out demons, raising the dead. Only one year of saying that the poor are blessed, that the Messiah was here for the sinner, that the hungry will be fed.
That’s all it took. One year. And we decided that was all we needed to hear. After one, short year of Jesus’ ministry we, like the people, decided enough was enough. That we were tired of hearing about how the poor were blessed, that those who mourn would be comforted, that those who hunger for righteousness would be filled, that the peacemakers would be called children of God.
After one year, we – like the crowds, leaders, chief priests – we had heard enough. This Jesus of Nazareth wove together words like poetry, sung songs of hope and fulfillment, proclaimed the people’s hour.
And after one year he was silenced. Not because his voice had become too powerful, or because he spoke lies, or because he was an agent of evil, but instead because he threatened the ecosystem of those in power.
Jesus was a threat to the status quo. Jesus challenged the way those in power and privilege lived their lives. But, power and status quo and laws based in ritual and tradition and the way things have always been done aren’t changed with a single word.
And so, Jesus was killed. Killed not because he wanted to bring down the religious leaders and take over their positions of power. Killed not because he wanted Pilate’s job. Killed not because he wanted the Roman Empire gone. But killed because he advocated for justice, righteousness, peace for everyone.
So, in a very deliberate sense, Jesus was in the business of bringing down the whole power structure and system. Jesus was in the business of leveling every inch and ounce of injustice and corruption that brought only certain people to their knees.
Jesus was and is in the business of bringing about a kingdom that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. Jesus is claiming a power that doesn’t reflect any power we’ve ever seen on this earth. Jesus is claiming a strength and wisdom and might that has no correlation to anything that’s ever been done or thought of across society and time.
And that’s because Jesus proclaims justice, mercy, forgiveness, grace, love, and peace without any regard for his own wellbeing. Jesus – throughout the entire 365 days of his ministry – knows the cross is nearing. He knows that with every step he takes the cross approaches. With every sin he forgives the cross approaches. With every death he reverses the cross approaches. With every healing he performs the cross approaches. With every parable he tells the cross approaches.
Yet Jesus continues forward anyway. For you, your neighbor, your friend, your enemy, for the entire world. This is the radical and inbreaking nature of God. That with every step, breath, word, and action, Jesus was focused on shining a light into the darkness, proclaiming the kingdom of God, raising up the lost and oppressed – all while knowing that the price for doing so would be death.
And yet Jesus continued on anyway. This is the good news on this Good Friday. That no matter your sins, Jesus dies on the cross for you. No matter your failings, Jesus dies on the cross for you. No matter your denials or betrayals, Jesus dies on the cross for you. For God so loved the world – God so loves you – that God’s one and only son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ – died this day for the whole world. Jesus Christ, your friend – died this day, for you.