“Five Good Friday Meditations”

John 18:1 – John 19: 42

30 March 2018

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

West Walworth: Zion & East Rochester United Methodist Churches

 

(The inspiration for these meditations come from “Preaching the New Common Lectionary Year B” by Craddock, Hayes, Holladay, and Tucker. 1990)

 

Meditation #1: “Resistance”

(John 18:1-12)  http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=389163373

 

In John,

Jesus does not resist.

Jesus does not resist the detachment of soldiers,

Uniquely described in this Gospel,

Totaling about 600 men.

Jesus does not resist the police from the Chief Priests and the Pharisees,

Totaling another 400 well armed men.

 

Jesus does not resist the political and religious powers of this world

That have joined in opposition to the Word of God.

“In the beginning was the Word …

And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.” (1:1, 14)

 

Jesus does not resist,

But he remains in charge.

His hour had come.

He knew it.

He accepted it.

“Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?” (18:11b)

 

Meditation #2: “Jesus in Charge”

(John 18:13-27)  http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=389165244

 

Jesus was arrested and forcibly held.

One would think the authorities had the upper hand.

They held the keys.

They had the weapons.

They had the power.

Yet, Jesus remained in charge.

His hour had come.

 

Since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead,

The outcome of his trial had been settled.

The trial of Peter, on the other hand, would continue.

The trials of Apostles and Martyrs would continue.

Our trials today continue,

Even as the trial of Jesus has been

Signed, sealed,

And with premeditation,

And a predetermined verdict,

Jesus was delivered.

 

Meditation #3: Irony

(John 18:28-19:16) http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=389165557

 

Oh, the irony of Jesus before Pilate!

Christ, the one in chains, is in charge!

Pilate the governor, shuffles back and forth with indecision

Like a school child trying to please everyone.

 

Oh, the irony of Jesus before those who would indict him!

The Jewish crowd preached

Righteousness according to the Law, on the one hand,

Yet, they were calling for the murder of Jesus,

A violation of the Ten Commandments, on the other hand.

 

Oh, the irony of Jesus before his accusers!

How quickly they would confess their true faith:

“We have no king but the emperor.”

On Passover,

The anniversary of freedom from Pharaoh,

Pharaoh is embraced.

 

Oh, the irony.

 

Meditation #4: Our Good Shepherd and King

(John 19:17-30)   http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=389165697

 

“I am the Good Shepherd,” Jesus had taught.

Indeed, Christ was the Good Shepherd until the end.

As he hung there dying

Jesus made arrangements for the care of his mother,

Mary the wife of Clopas,

and Mary Magdalene.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, gives his life for his sheep.

 

Even Pilate knew what the crowd did not:

That Jesus was the King of the Jews.

He had it printed up there in three different languages

So that everyone would know where he stood.

“What I have written I have written,” he replies

To those who just confessed that the emperor was their king.

 

What would only become apparent in hindsight

Is that Jesus Christ is the King of all God’s creation.

By his death, he promised to ascend from the grave.

By his resurrection, he promised to ascend to the right hand of his Father.

 

These aren’t empty promises from a wise Rabbi

Who had a large following,

Who’s own followers turned on him.

These promises would be fulfilled

By the One who keeps his word,

Is faithful to his covenants,

Who has the power and the love

To be our King.

 

These are the promises of our King!

 

Meditation #5: The New Exodus

(John 19:31-42)  http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=389165782

 

The dirty work was left up to the soldiers.

 

The very ones who had flogged Jesus,

Dressed him like a comic and struck him in the face,

Pounded stakes through his hands and feet,

And raised up wine on a stick right before Jesus died

Now had the responsibility to remove the corpse from the public’s eye.

 

It was the soldiers who hand divided his cloths,

Had scorned him with their taunts,

Who had cast lots for his seamless tunic,

To fulfill scripture.

 

Sometimes the movement of God

Is nearly imperceptible,

Like a 3.2 earthquake three states away.

 

It was the soldiers who didn’t break a corpse’s legs,

Instead pierced it in the side

“so that scripture might be fulfilled. (19:36)

 

The soldiers found more courage in scripture and in life

Than Joseph and Nicodemus could only find in death.

 

Christ dies as the Passover lamb,

Exactly according to scripture,

And thus his caretakers treat his corpse.

This Passover proclaims a new exodus,

Not from Egyptian slavery,

But from bondage to sin and death.

 

A new exodus has begun;

The water and blood of Christ co-mingled

Becomes a new cosmic reality.

Through baptism and eucharist

We now venture out into an unexplored spiritual landscape.

We now leave behind the self, the finality of death.

We now make a new exodus:

We are now the Body of Christ.