Friday, April 03, 2015

The Suffering Servant

Good Friday
2015 (Year B)

Because this evening's passages are long, I have provided the links to a great resource for reading the Bible online. The manuscript is after the break. 

"The Suffering  Servant"

What a strange, unsettling day today is. I’ve always found it to be so. We call it “Good” but that feels like a weird name for the darkest day on the church calendar. What’s so good about Jesus being beaten and killed in such a savage way?
Good Friday seems dark and gruesome to celebrate. I wonder what would happen if we took to the streets to interview non-Christians about their thoughts on having a whole worship service devoted to a grisly event like Jesus’ death.
Even this prophecy from Isaiah is grim and difficult. The prophet Isaiah tells us of one called “The Suffering Servant.” This one came for the good of all and was met with violence and brutality.
         But this is a moment not of hopelessness and despair, but of hope and love in the middle of the most messed up kind of story we can imagine. Isaiah prophesies that the Messiah – the Suffering Servant - will be  “wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities” and “upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have all turned to our own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
         There is a glimmer of hope in this dark hour. There is comfort that this death is not in vain. This death is so that we have salvation from ourselves, from the wrong we’ve done, the trouble we’ve stirred up, the sinful lives we lead. This brutal death is not an empty one. It’s a moment not of ending, but of victory.
         We will spend the rest of this evening and all of tomorrow living in the tension between darkness and light. Hope and despair. It is not a comfortable place to dwell and that’s ok. Good Friday and Holy Saturday are not meant to be easy days. If they are just easy days leading up to Sunday, we have just stolen the power from the celebration of the Resurrection. Our remembrance of the empty tomb is just an empty liturgy if we do not remember how we got to that tomb in the first place.
We can’t see Good Friday as the end of the story. . . it’s just the climax of the story! Good Friday is not all darkness. Surely as we extinguish the candles one by one this evening, we acknowledge the darkness of this hour, but we do so with the knowledge that on Sunday morning, the candles will be lit once more. Hope will spring forth with joy that cannot be compared to any other!

[1] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 52:13–53:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ps 22:1–31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 18:1–19:42). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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