22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha, which means Skull Place. 23 They tried to give him wine mixed with myrrh, but he didn’t take it. 24 They crucified him. They divided up his clothes, drawing lots for them to determine who would take what. 25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The notice of the formal charge against him was written, “The king of the Jews.” 27 They crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.
29 People walking by insulted him, shaking their heads and saying, “Ha! So you were going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, were you? 30 Save yourself and come down from that cross!”
31 In the same way, the chief priests were making fun of him among themselves, together with the legal experts. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the king of Israel, come down from the cross. Then we’ll see and believe.” Even those who had been crucified with Jesus insulted him.
33 From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark. 34 At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,” which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”
35 After hearing him, some standing there said, “Look! He’s calling Elijah!” 36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, and put it on a pole. He offered it to Jesus to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 But Jesus let out a loud cry and died.
38 The curtain of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 When the centurion, who stood facing Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “This man was certainly God’s Son.”
It is Good Friday and the scripture we recognize here feels like anything but “good.” There is not only the violence surrounding Jesus’ death, but so much of what others said mocked and distorted Jesus’ good works. The crucifixion of Jesus is hard to read. Even though we know that our Lord will rise up on the third day, just for today, we live in grief.
I also hear a lot of explanations and insults. It seems that those present constantly looked to justify Jesus as the criminal that they wanted to him to be. How often do we distort the actions of someone or label them as evil? How often do we attempt to justify our own behavior because we have decided that God cannot be present?
We live in grief, not because we want to revel in the sadness of the day, but because of the violence that exists, then and now, within our world.
We live in grief, because the temple curtain was torn–that symbolizes God’s separation from humanity.
We live in grief, not just because a good man died, but because Jesus Christ chose to take on the burden of our sins.
We live in grief because we don’t want to accept that Our Lord was with us and is now gone. Later the world will recognize what the centurion sees: “this man was the Son of God!”
By Barbara Carlson
For Pondering & Prayer
So much of the events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus may be hard to read, but I encourage you to read through it in one sitting. See Mark 14-16, or John 18-20. Do you ever wonder what you would have done if you were there?
For prayer today, here are Jesus’ words as recorded in John 17. This is a prayer Jesus offered after the Last Supper for the acceptance of what was to come and to honor the disciples. I have adapted it from John 17:1-4.
Prayer: Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that (we) may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (May we) glorify you on earth by finishing the work that you gave (us) to do. Amen.