"Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:8)
Isn’t it just like God? To create a universe 13.7 billion years ago with everything we would ever need, then set it in motion for love?
We watch love expand on Good Friday. Through our readings we listen to salvation history unfold in climactic scenes: the moment that Isaiah foretold; the hope of redemption that the psalmist sings; and the exquisite moment that Jesus offers us, modeling how to love without condition.
Foretelling the Messiah in Chapter 52, Isaiah tells us “there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him… he was a man of suffering… yet it was our infirmities that he bore.”
It is our sin, our transgression, our offense that he bore. Each time we reject love, we inflict more suffering upon him. Yet, “he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their rest.” Blessed be.
In Psalm 31, the psalmist sings of his salvation in God: “In your hands is my destiny; rescue me from the clutches of my enemies.”
He sings of his trust in God, and though a laughingstock to his neighbors, the psalmist takes courage and is stouthearted. While acknowledging his pain and troubles, our psalmist focuses on the long view of salvation history and trusts in God. He writes the prayers that Jesus prayed — prayers that offered Jesus comfort through his deepest trial.
During the climactic scene of his crucifixion, Jesus faces the human emotions that we’ve all felt: pain, loss, unjust judgment, fear, and suffering as he watched Mary stand by his cross. He accepted it and showed us how to respond in love.
In his Gospel, John conveys Jesus’ understanding of the impact of power, woundedness, and greed. Jesus recognizes that not everyone will follow him: the chief priests, the Pharisees, Annas, Pilate, and the crowd all reject him. Will we?
We hurt. We hurt others. We get stuck in our hurt, unable to even answer, “where is love?”
We focus on my hurt, my pain, the injustice done to me, rather than claiming our belovedness in Christ. We focus on the harm, rather than the One who transforms it.
As we do so, we become like those in the crowd crucifying Jesus, refusing to embrace our own belovedness. When we focus on the harm we abandon our own life source — our connection and relationship to God who loves us without condition.
Are we hurt enough yet to imagine a different way? What if we hold to love rather than to the pain we have endured? What if we restore justice by listening to one another, and then, absorbing pain as Jesus did? What if we touch our sadness with love? What if we allow Jesus to touch our pain and bring us to new life?
Jesus knew he was the Beloved. He embraced it from his cross then offered himself for love’s sake. Jesus gave his life so that we might always be in relationship with him.
What would you give your life for?
Will you allow love to continue to expand through you?
Will you let your cross bring you new life — for love’s sake?