Today we celebrated Good Friday at church. This is one of the reflections I wrote for that service. The painting was done by a team of beautiful and clever people I get to journey with.
Thinking of you today – may you find life and hope in grief and despair.
While the drama of the crucifixion plays out in an intensely physical and earthly place we must lift our gaze to contemplate the great spiritual drama in play.
The lashings, jeerings and mocking are the least of what Jesus is enduring. At this time sin, sickness, defeat, despair, depression, oppression and brokenness is being transferred to Jesus, the final atoning sacrifice.
In the Old Testament we see sin atoned for by the priest laying his hands on the person and the animal brought for sacrifice – the sin passes from the sinner to the animal, often a lamb. On the cross we see Jesus, our great high priest, the mediator of a new covenant, take up all sin.
What once had to be done again and again to make atonement for sin is achieved once for all, on a wooden cross on a hill shaped like a skull.
None of the bystanders could begin to perceive the exchange at this moment – the chief priests as they justified their win, the disciples as they feared and agonised, the women as they openly grieved the one they loved.
How often do we walk past the cross without stopping to meditate on the truly cosmic moment when the Trinity was torn in two, where the final victory was achieved, where the words ‘It is Finished’ truly meant it is finished.
And then the curtain tore.
A huge and heavy embroidered curtain, reported to be up to 4 inches thick was torn from top to bottom – from God to man – the supreme gift, a way into the holy of holies.
What was once a dividing place between the holy and the unholy instantly accessible to all.
God’s holy presence no less holy, no less awe-some, no less powerful but because of Jesus we are now made holy and worthy to enter.
His blood the sacrifice we could not make. His broken body taking away our brokenness, our shame exchange for his garment of righteousness.
Jesus has defeated death itself – not for his disciples, not for Jews, not for good men but for all – for strangers, for the lost, for the sick, for gentiles and women, for children and for all of creation – right out to the edges of the cosmos.
This act of Jesus, conceived by God as the ultimate rescue mission, initiated in heaven, is for all of the created order.
In this divine exchange the whole of creation’s brokenness is taken up into Jesus and finds in him the answer and the cure.
May you know the Presence of God today and may your heart leap at the welcome into the Holy place.