Good Friday. The crucifiction. Death and no resurrection (yet).
I always get the best topics. So let me re-frame it:
Dead to the world
This expression is especially useful when young people live in close quarters with one another such as in a college dormatory. It is commonly acceptable for a person who declares him/herself “dead to the world” to break off all non-essential communications (such as Facebook) and not to show up to planned events or meetings. No further notice should be required aside from the basic declaration.
She/He’s dead to me
The expression of such utter distaste for a person or object that it calls for the personal denial of its worldly existence.
Reveal: Things/behaviours/habits/people/values to be dead to/drop/leave behind
What’s on your list? …..
As we see, there are many habits we can “Die to”, that are good to leave behind:
Habits that influence our health like drugs or certain foods
Toxic people at work, or the roles we are playing there, or how we treat others
How we behave towards our partner or parents, how we cling on to people that moved on, in any sense
In our relationship with God, like using God as a slot machine – input prayer, output better life, the time we spend or don’t spend with God
The way we spend our money, on ourself or on others.
Connection to the crucifiction?
It wasn’t just an end – it was also: A new beginning
For a new beginning, something has to end. To die. Our lives are full of this dichotomy:
Darkness, Tunnel – light
Night – day
After the Storm – sun
What ended on Good Friday?
Old World of sin
Old World of guilt
Old world of dying
New world of forgiveness
New world of hope
New world of eternal life
For the World
What does that mean for us? And:
Are there any conditions?
Jesus had to surrender
We have to surrender
When I first read the scripture passage which we just heard, two lines stuck in my mind. The first one is:
„Who would have thought GOD’s saving power would look like this?“
Jesus, the son of allmighty God, most of his life and especially before his crucifiction, looked … broken. Bruised. Battered. Probably dirty. Certainly bloody.
The complete opposite of what you’d expect from a King, a Prime Minister, a President. No magnificent robes. Not being carried around in a sedan chair. Not surrounded by security and servants..
Instead, he was the servant, the surprising, unexpected victim, the lamb that doesn’t resist when led to the slaughter. Even though he knew. Even though he knew fear. Because he was fully human and fully God.
Jesus surrendered to the will of the Father because he knew the bigger plan. He knew that it was necessary for him to suffer, to die, so that death can be overcome, so that we may live.
I’d like to think that for the human side of Jesus that surrender was hard. Because it goes so much against all our human upbringing, our human survival instinct which says: Me first. Jesus surrendered to the „Father, your will be done“. Not my will. Your will.
Here’s maybe our first lesson from the story.
We also need to put God first. Before our human will, instincts, learnings.
We, too, must say, „Your will be done“. Not mine.
And that’s hard.
It’s hard because if we really mean it, if it’s not just lip service, it has consequences.
In order to overcome death, we need to change our lives.
In order to overcome death, we need to change our lives.
Something has to die, our old self, the world’s self, in order for us to be born again.
And the new me will be different – behave differently, believe differently, set different priorities. The Jesus Priority: God First.
The second learning I took from this first line that stuck in my mind is:
Expect the unexpected.
Look beyond the obvious.
Ignore the outer shell.
I believe that many people at the time who were looking, desperately looking for the messiah, couldn’t find him in Jesus because he didn’t conform to their expectations.
He was so different.
Behaved like … like every day was Opposite Day, often directly juxtaposed to the behaviour they wanted, they expected.
He didn’t pick up arms to defeat the oppressors.
He didn’t follow the rules about what is done and isn’t done, on the sabbath and otherwise.
He didn’t condem those they deemed sinners.
And he didn’t conveniently lie when Pontius Pilate asked him who he was.
A little white lie that could have saved his life.
This learning is probably as relevant today as it was then. How often do we judge people – good or bad – based on their looks? Their clothes? Brand or not? The car they drive? Audi or Grab? Where they live? Landed property or HDB? How well they follow all the rules?
We need to look beyond all that. We need to see the person. Listen to their story. Relate. Connect. Even if they don’t smell so nice. Or speak our language.
The second line that stuck in my mind is the very last line of the message:
„He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.“
He took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Because the black sheep, the rebels and the rejected, the sinners and fallen saints, the downtrodden and destitude, the addicted and afflicted — us — we need him most.
We need the change that Jesus’ death brings.
We need to die with him – die to our old lives – and rise with him.
We need the new life that is a new chance, full of new possibilities.
We are the black sheep. Just like Jesus.
So today is a good day to die.
Fully awake and fully aware.
To die to old habits, and to live for the promise of forgiveness and a fresh start.
Let us spend a few moments to meditate on death and life,
resurrection and restart.
What do you want from your new life?
And what does God want from yours?