Good Friday

2 April 2021

Every Good Friday, I’m reminded of Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice on the altar.  Abraham is a Biblical character who epitomises faith in God: he obeyed God’s nonsensical command to offer his son (Genesis 22:11-12).  Saint John Chrysostom said the reason the angel called Abraham’s name twice was that he was so determined to obey God’s command. 

The Lord will provide

God provided a ram as a substitutional sacrifice in place of Isaac (verses 13-14).  Let’s recall that God established a Covenant with Abraham: if Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, how much more God one day in the future would be willing to offer His only begotten Son Jesus Christ on the cross.  Abraham named the place, “the Lord will provide”; God has provided from heaven His only begotten Son: He has fulfilled His promise.

There was no other way

On the cross, Jesus prayed aloud: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit”; He said, “It is finished”, and gave up His spirit.  It had to happen the way it was planned: there was absolutely no other way.  God’s love for humanity, His effort in saving creation, appeared to have ended in humiliation, shame and disgrace, for many who looked at the cross.  On the cross, the wrath of God slew His own Son for the sin of the world.  As a consequence, His disciples scattered in different ways, their hopes dashed.  According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the only thing they could say was, “What happened?  Why did it have to end this way?  We left everything, gave up everything to follow him, and now all is gone.”  There was no other way; they had no choice but to accept the death of Jesus.

From Good Friday to Easter are the days of God’s empowering acts in history.  Ironically, God’s judgment and grace were demonstrated: they are contrasts, but were at work at the same time.  While sinfulness warranted judgment, grace would be revealed to the world.  Judgment came when Jesus hung on the cross; the power of God’s grace swallowed up death in victory.  Jesus was alone: His disciples left Him, everyone turned their back on Christ.  God accomplished the salvation of humanity single-handed.  As David single-handedly slew Goliath, so God performed His saving work and won the victory for us on the cross.  God came to human beings in infinite love: humans crucified His Son, but He granted humanity grace beyond merit. 

Divine hope for a suffering world

At the time when the disciples’ hope is dashed, when all human hope which we hold onto is gone – this didn’t only happen to the disciples: it happens to many people even today – miraculously it is replaced by divine hope.  Today we kneel before the cross to surrender our lives to God.  Beyond that, this is a very special Good Friday.  Today we bring a suffering world: reeling, perplexed, angry, bruised, wounded, because of the pandemic; some have lost their hope.  We, the Church, kneel at the foot of the cross and bring not only our lives, but the world, God’s creation, to the foot of the cross.  Our hope is not dashed, and we say that by the stripes of Jesus, by the wounds of Christ, we thank You, Lord for healing our lives and the world we live in.

2 April 2021

Every Good Friday, I’m reminded of Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice on the altar.  Abraham is a Biblical character who epitomises faith in God: he obeyed God’s nonsensical command to offer his son (Genesis 22:11-12).  Saint John Chrysostom said the reason the angel called Abraham’s name twice was that he was so determined to obey God’s command. 

The Lord will provide

God provided a ram as a substitutional sacrifice in place of Isaac (verses 13-14).  Let’s recall that God established a Covenant with Abraham: if Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, how much more God one day in the future would be willing to offer His only begotten Son Jesus Christ on the cross.  Abraham named the place, “the Lord will provide”; God has provided from heaven His only begotten Son: He has fulfilled His promise.

There was no other way

On the cross, Jesus prayed aloud: “Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit”; He said, “It is finished”, and gave up His spirit.  It had to happen the way it was planned: there was absolutely no other way.  God’s love for humanity, His effort in saving creation, appeared to have ended in humiliation, shame and disgrace, for many who looked at the cross.  On the cross, the wrath of God slew His own Son for the sin of the world.  As a consequence, His disciples scattered in different ways, their hopes dashed.  According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the only thing they could say was, “What happened?  Why did it have to end this way?  We left everything, gave up everything to follow him, and now all is gone.”  There was no other way; they had no choice but to accept the death of Jesus.

From Good Friday to Easter are the days of God’s empowering acts in history.  Ironically, God’s judgment and grace were demonstrated: they are contrasts, but were at work at the same time.  While sinfulness warranted judgment, grace would be revealed to the world.  Judgment came when Jesus hung on the cross; the power of God’s grace swallowed up death in victory.  Jesus was alone: His disciples left Him, everyone turned their back on Christ.  God accomplished the salvation of humanity single-handed.  As David single-handedly slew Goliath, so God performed His saving work and won the victory for us on the cross.  God came to human beings in infinite love: humans crucified His Son, but He granted humanity grace beyond merit. 

Divine hope for a suffering world

At the time when the disciples’ hope is dashed, when all human hope which we hold onto is gone – this didn’t only happen to the disciples: it happens to many people even today – miraculously it is replaced by divine hope.  Today we kneel before the cross to surrender our lives to God.  Beyond that, this is a very special Good Friday.  Today we bring a suffering world: reeling, perplexed, angry, bruised, wounded, because of the pandemic; some have lost their hope.  We, the Church, kneel at the foot of the cross and bring not only our lives, but the world, God’s creation, to the foot of the cross.  Our hope is not dashed, and we say that by the stripes of Jesus, by the wounds of Christ, we thank You, Lord for healing our lives and the world we live in.

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