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Matthew 27:32-56 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
32 As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyre′ne, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Gol′gotha (which means the place of a skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; 36 then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, la′ma sabach-tha′ni?” that is, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “This man is calling Eli′jah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Eli′jah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; 52 the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
55 There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; 56 among whom were Mary Mag′dalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zeb′edee.
And there it is. The crucifixion. Every year some small part of me hopes that the story will be different. That someone will step forward and say, ‘this is a miscarriage of justice’ or that Jesus will leap off the cross like a superhero or that instead of mocking, the soldiers will stand there weeping silently. Theologically I understand that the crucifixion had to happen, but I really wish it didn’t. I am distressed by the cruelty of the act and the casualness of the witnesses.
And I want a different story.
It is the same in life. When watching images of grieving people and exhausted health care workers and desperate unemployed, I want to write a different story right now. Life is hard. Not always of course. And there is the temptation to jump to the happy ending – “see the tomb is empty” — “its all going to work out in the end”. But here’s the thing, we can’t get to Easter morning and all that the empty tomb promises without going through the suffering and grief of Good Friday.
We are living in a Good Friday world and perhaps that is right where we need to be for now. Life is hard, we are living in a Good Friday world and there are the very real feelings of grief and pain, confusion and apprehension. This is where we are today, so let us not deny any of those difficult feelings.
Yes, we are an Easter people . . . and we are Good Friday people too.
In hope for a new day. Thanks be to God for this day. Amen
Questions to ponder
What are your feelings right now?
How do you express those feelings?
What in your life feels like a crucifixion?
What needs to die to make room for resurrection?
A Prayer for the Day
Oh Holy One, I want to skip right over Good Friday because it is so painful and scary and hard. Grant me the courage to feel my grief for the world today . . . .
and the wisdom to know that Good Friday is not the end of the story for you or for us. Amen.
Music for Reflection & Inspiration
“By the Mark” Welch and Rawlings