A Gospel Reading
Pilate then had Jesus taken away and scourged; and after this, the soldiers twisted some thorns into a crown and put it on his head and dressed him in a purple robe. They kept coming up to him and saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ and slapping him in the face. Pilate came outside again and said to them, ‘Look, I am going to bring him out to you to let you see that I find no case against him.’ The chief priests and the guards shouted, ‘Crucify Him! Crucify Him!’ Pilate said, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him: I find no case against him.’ The Jews replied, ‘We have a Law, and according to that Law he ought to be put to death, because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’…They (the soldiers) then took charge of Jesus, and carrying his own cross he went out to the Place of the Skull, or as it is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, where they crucified him with two others, one on either side, Jesus being in the middle…When the soldiers had finished crucifying Jesus they took his clothing and divided it into four shares, one for each soldier. His undergarment was seamless, woven in one piece from neck to hem; so they said to one another, ‘Instead of tearing it, let’s throw dice to decide who is to have it.’ In this way the words of Scripture were fulfilled: ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothes.’ That is what the soldiers did. Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleopas, and Mary of Magdela. Seeing his mother and the disciples whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son.’ Then to the disciple he said, ‘This is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. After this, Jesus knew that everything had now been completed and, so that the scripture should be completely fulfilled, he said: ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of wine stood there, so putting a sponge in the wine on a hyssop stick, they held it up to his mouth. After Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is fulfilled’; and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit. (John 19:1ff, NJB).
If it is possible (?), I feel at this moment that too many words have been loosely thrown around about this pivotal, epochal, historical hinge point in human existence. What to write about such a moment? How do you adequately describe the “Restorer of All Things” desperately breathing his last few gulps of air? Of eternity beginning to be set right again? Of He, the First Fruit, dying in our place, so that ultimately we may live?
If anything, less is more with Good Friday.
In a spirit of reverence, I ask you to join with our community (who will have sung these famous lines at the start of our Good Friday gathering), in letting Isaac Watts gift us with his tune during these hours:
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
See, from his head, his hands, his feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were an offering far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.
(Isaac Watts, When I Survey The Wondrous Cross)