A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Holy Week Reflections - Good Friday

For the season of Lent, my Thursday morning bible study has been focusing on the book, "Christians at the Cross," by New Testament bible scholar, Tom Wright. Today, we looked at Good Friday of Holy Week.

The scripture texts for Good Friday are Isaiah 52:13-53:12 (the Suffering Servant) & John 19:16b-37 (the crucifixion narrative.)

Here are the highlights regarding Good Friday as it relates to Tom Wright's book:
  • Tom Wright uses the analogy of white-water canoeing and the moment the canoe hits the point where all the water is rushing together and forms an inverted V-shape. Even though everything is chaotic, the canoe is able to move forward which is what you need rather than to go sideways. Things are still chaotic, but you keep moving forward. Good Friday is a bit like this analogy.
  • It's important that we, especially those of us who have heard the Good Friday story over a period of time, don't domesticate the events of Holy Week where we glibly say, "Well, that's what Jesus came to do, die on a cross" as if this all makes sense. At the time, it didn't. It was chaos, tragic, and terrifying.
  • Using the music analogy of the different parts of a song, the bass part that John the Gospel writer has in mind, is the Suffering Servant passage in Isaiah. By going through the suffering, shame, and death on the cross, Jesus is living out this Old Testament passage.
  • John carefully points out three things about Jesus in the passion narrative. 1) Jesus is Israel's and the world's true king. (see the inscription over the cross by Pilate.) 2) Jesus' identifies with the Psalms of suffering as people gamble for his garments and ridicule him. 3) Jesus is the Passover lamb. They don't break his legs.
  • When Jesus says, "It is finished," he is alluding to the creation story when God completed creation. Tom Wright has a beautiful line that says that on the cross, Jesus has gone to the "darkest and deepest place of ruin, and has planted there the sign that says 'Rescued.'"
  • Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we are called to be like Mary and John and stand at the foot of the cross and to wait patiently for a fresh word of God to help us move forward and become "community" again.

Next Thursday, we'll focus on Saturday of Holy Week.

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