IT WAS NOTHING BUT LOVE THAT PLACED JESUS ON THE CROSS
(A biblical refection on GOOD FRIDAY, 25 March 2016)
Second Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
First Reading: Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12; Psalms: Psalm 31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25; Gospel Reading: John 18:1 – 19:42
The Scripture Text
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear. Although He was a Son, He learned obedience through what He suffered; and being made perfect He became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey Him. (Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 RSV)
Today, all over the world, Christians are setting aside time to meditate on the cross of Christ. But as we focus our attention on the cross today, let’s not make it a time of sadness or self-accusation. Instead, let’s turn our time of silence before the cross into a time of awe, worship, and unspeakable gratitude for all that God has done for us.
As we gaze, let us consider a central question: Why did Jesus have to die this way? The answer, of course, is for love. It was out of love that He stooped down low and gathered up each one of us in His arms. No matter what our weakness, He has overcome it by nailing it to the cross with Him.
It was nothing but love that placed Him on the cross: love for the Father and a deep desire that humanity share eternity with Him; love for each one of us, that we be released from our bondage to sin and death. Jesus was blameless and worthy of highest exaltation. Yet He embraced God’s will and in humble obedience He freely embraced the cross so that we could share in His resurrection life. How can we not stand in awe of so high and so deep – so passionate and so true – a love?
There is nothing that we need to add to this great love. Indeed, there’s nothing that we can add to it! We can only receive. One way to bring this point home is by praying the Stations of the Cross today. At each station – as Jesus is condemned to death, each time He falls, when He meets His mother, and all the others – imagine ourselves there at the scene. Observe the expressions on Jesus’ face. Let’s listen to the voices of the different characters and feel the love flowing from the Lord. At each station, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to give each of us new insight into the redemption Jesus won for us. Let’s ask Him to unfold the mystery of God’s love and the power of His redemption. This truly is a glorious day to gaze on our Lord in love and awe and gratitude!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am in awe of Your plan of salvation. You have transformed me in Christ, and I want only to worship You today. I open my arms and my heart to receive all the spiritual blessings You long to pour into me. Amen.
Jakarta, 23 March 2016
A Christian Pilgrim