“Standing Near the Cross”
Good Friday Meditation
April 3, 2015 – Tenebrae Service
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, pastor
East Rochester & West Walworth: Zion United Methodist Churches
And that is what the soldiers did. Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
In today’s world
One has to pay for access.
Whether it is the arts or sporting events,
Money gives the privileged a better seat,
Closer to the stage, rink, or field,
Clearer sight lines,
More pure, unadulterated sound,
Even the chance for an autograph
Or chance to get a selfie with a superstar.
About ten years ago
My eldest son, Nicholas, and I attended a Sabres hockey game on Long Island.
A Nor’easter had just blown through and dumped a couple of feet of snow,
But the game was not canceled.
Our hundred dollar cheap seats
Put us way up in the nosebleed section in a near empty arena.
As soon as the puck dropped
The public address announcer told the few hundred of us in attendance
That we could take any open seat.
We moved up to the glass
And sat in $500 seats,
Just like that.
The season ticket holders next to us
Looked at us and scoffed.
They had paid full price.
To them, we were nothing other than the recipients of a free ride.
Near the cross of Jesus
Was Mary, the mother of Jesus,
His mother’s sister, his aunt,
Mary the wife of Clopas,
And Mary Magdalene,
- 4 women -
As recorded in the Gospel of John.
Jesus was paying the full price,
And so, too, were his mother, family, and beloved friends.
The price of admission was death and grief,
The pain and suffering of abiding with a loved one
As life dripped slowly away.
You and I tonight
Couldn’t be further away from the cross of Jesus.
These cheap seats we are sitting in tonight
Are two thousand years after the fact
And on the complete other side of the planet
From Calvary’s skull-shaped hill.
Yet, God has given us a free upgrade,
A free pass,
The invitation to move down front and center,
To place ourselves at the foot of the cross,
To take our place with the women who were dwelling there.
God’s grace is free,
But it isn’t cheap.
Opening our minds and hearts
To the suffering and death of Jesus
Causes us to tremble,
To suffer and mourn,
To be drawn through the wringer of death and grief right along with those women.
Only fools would chose to walk this valley,
Yet, fools we are.
Fools we chose to be
When we answered his call to come and follow him.
Though we are baptismal birds-of-a-feather,
Something more than our association with Jesus draws us to his cross.
Something more than being a disciple
Invites us into the presence of
This cruel suffering and death.
We place ourselves near the cross this night,
In the waning shadows of this spent day,
Because we’ve come to know,
The powerful cleansing nature of Christ’s blood.
On this cross
God gave his Son
As a gift of love and grace
To take away the sin of the world.
What sin was done in the Garden of Eden
Has been undone by the cross of Jesus.
This grace is free,
And worthy of our praise,
But it isn’t cheap.
The price we offer in return
Is to suffer right there with him.
The price we pay
Is to let the shadows nearly overtake us
Even as they take his body away.