The scriptural lessons for Good Friday and long and rich and they tell the story pretty well. The first reading from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah reminds us that the prophets, at their best, always knew that the Messiah would not just be an earthly king seeking to wield power and control, but would be a “suffering servant” willing to give himself up for his people.
The familiar Psalm 22 provides the words that Messiah used when he did indeed give himself up for us on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me…” He was that desolate in his suffering.
The Passion Gospel according to St. John tells the story of the last hours of Jesus’ life when he crossed the Kidron valley (not far from here), was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (not far from here), was betrayed and denied by his best friends (in this holy city), and died on a cross on Golgotha between two thieves.
But one line from Hebrews (10:23) says what it all means for us: “Let us hold fast to the confession of our faith without wavering, for the one who has promised is faithful!”
God sent the suffering servant to this holy land – after all the centuries of preparation – because “the one who has promised is faithful.” What does that mean for us?
It means that we can be confident of our Christian faith even when we find ourselves a tiny minority – because the one who has promised is faithful!
It means that, not matter how bad things may look, God will one day establish a kingdom of justice and of peace…because the one who has promised is faithful!
It means that when you and I experience suffering and pain in our own lives, our families, our churches, our communities, healing and wholeness are possible…because the one who has promised is faithful!
And it means that when we finally close our eyes in death and whisper with Jesus “It is finished” we know that new life has really just begun…because the one who has promised is faithful!
I can’t tell you what it has meant for my colleagues and me to have been in this land during this season, and be reminded here – in a special way – that the one who has promised is faithful.
We see that promise in your faces and in your eyes. We see it in your churches. Most of all, we see it in the faithfulness of your many ministries.
We will always pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
Please pray for us as well…