06 April 2007

Today Death dies...

Good Friday 2007: Isa 52.13-52.12; Heb 4.14-16, 5.7-9; John 18.1-19.42
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
Church of the Incarnation, Irving, TX


Our Savior is dead! Why do we mourn? He has bled for us. Been broken for us. Betrayed by a friend, denied by his students, falsely accused by his own people, mocked by the Romans, whipped into a bloody mess, traded for a murderer to be executed, marched to the city dump, and nailed to a cross, he is lifted up above Jerusalem to be seen—then, right then, and now, right now—to be seen by every eye that will turn to him and look. Look and truly see: who is that hanging on the Cross? Our Savior is dead! Why do we mourn? He had bled for us. Been broken for us. Who? Who has bled, been broken for us? Who hangs there on the Cross that matters? A rabbi? An innovative teacher of a peaceful Way? A rebel against Rome? A Jewish heretic? An annoying prophet out of Nazareth? Yes. And no. Pilate says he is the King of the Jews. The Jews say that he is revolutionary. His own friends do not know him. Hanging there, nailed hands and feet to the wood of the cross, bleeding out through hundreds of cuts and gashes, who do you say that he is? Point at him and name him! Will you name him: King? Teacher? Rebel? Friend? Savior? Do you bow and do honor to any king on earth? To a rebellious rabbi? To a friend you have betrayed? Not five days ago we stood in the crowd waving palms to welcome him here. Then we shouted for his blood, yelling up to Pilate: Crucify him! Crucify him! And here he is. Given to us as we asked. Our Savior is dead. Why do we mourn? He is pierced for our offenses and crushed for our sins. It is better that we rejoice! Breathe in relief! It is better that we laugh and praise God and sing and dance! But black mourning? No. Regret? Absolutely not. How about a kiss of humble gratitude? To touch the cross not with sorrow but with thanksgiving? Our Savior is dead. But we do not mourn. He freely suffered and died for us. So with confidence come to the throne of grace, God’s seat of every gift, every good, and receive His mercy, find His favor—a sacrifice, a blessing, a healing word—whatever you need when you need it. Death dies today, leaving only life—abundant, joyous, vigorous! The cross scatters the seed today that the tomb tomorrow will nurture. And on the day we have traveled so far to see, Christ will rise and flower—the Tree of Life!—and open the way for our lives with him forever. If today is dark, tomorrow is darker still. Hope then and do not mourn. Trust and do not be anxious. Love and do not fear. And give thanks! Our Savior is dead. For us, he is dead.

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