Glencairn Methodist Church
Good Friday and Easter
Following on with the story of Jesus’ last days from last month’s message, after the Passover Supper, Jesus led his disciples out of Jerusalem and into the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus knew that he would most likely be executed the next day. His time had come. He knew that crucifixion was a slow lingering painful death.
I have really no idea of how Jesus felt that night. Not yet have I had to sleep through a night knowing that my life would end the next day. I hope I never will. Once again Anne Boleyn was beheaded on TV in the last episode of Wolf Hall, another story of Henry VIII and some of his wives. And we have had the horrific scenes of innocent men being executed by the Jihadi group that calls itself Islamic State. How did these men feel the night before?
So it is understandable that Jesus spent a long time in prayer in the Garden with his disciples close at hand, albeit asleep. He prayed most earnestly that God would save him from this, but he acknowledged that this was the Father’s will for him, and he accepted the decision. Sin is a very serious business and forgiveness is a costly thing, and so God, in the person of God the Son, Jesus, offered himself as a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, thus clearing the way for God to forgive penitent sinners, namely us.
Soon a band of soldiers from the Temple Guard, led by the betrayer, Judas, found him in the Garden and he submitted to his captors. Impulsive Peter started to fight but Jesus stopped him and healed the wound Peter had inflicted on one of the band. The disciples fled and Jesus was taken to face the kangaroo court of the Chief Priests and the Jewish ruling council.
Since they did not believe that Jesus was who he said he was notwithstanding all the miraculous deeds he had done, it is understandable that they accused him of blasphemy, and found him guilty, and sentenced him to death. But they had no authority to carry out the sentence; they had to get the Roman authorities to do that. And, reluctantly Pilate gave way and reluctantly signed the death warrant.
The soldiers mocked him and whipped him. They pressed a crown of thorns on his head as he had claimed to be the King of the Jews. They cast lots for his clothes, and made him carry his cross to the place of execution. A stranger was conscripted to help him as he was already very weak.
And so Jesus was crucified, at about 9.00 a.m. Of his followers only John and some of the women stood and kept vigil with his mother Mary. He died about 6 hours later with a triumphant shout, “It is finished!”
He was taken down from the cross and buried in a cave by two sympathisers, and a stone was rolled across the mouth of the cave. And everybody went home because it was the Sabbath (Saturday).
The women decided that they would return on the Sunday morning with spices to anoint his body and to give Jesus the last rights of Judaism.
On that morning as they approached the cave and were wondering how to roll the stone away, they were amazed, and frightened, to see that the stone was already moved and that the body was not there!. They were horrified but they had a vision of angels telling them that Jesus was not there, that he had risen from the dead and would soon appear to them and his disciples. How did they feel? Scared, amazed, but yet strangely joyful. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene that morning and to the assembled disciples later that day.
God had vindicated Jesus and resurrected him.
The Good News of the Resurrection is that God has shown us that death is not the end for those who believe in Him and in Jesus as God the Son. His promise is that we also will share in the resurrected life of Jesus, a promise that gives us hope that our death in the body is but a transition to eternal life in the spirit.
The resurrected Jesus met will all his disciples and many other followers during a six week period before he returned (ascended) to heaven. He promised that that they would be empowered by the Holy Spirit and he gave them to task of spreading the Good New and making disciples of all people. This is still the Church’s task and for it we too are promised the power of the Spirit.
Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed!
1 April 2015
NOTE - Previous "Monthly Messages" are archived at http://glencairn.connor.anglican.org/previousmessages.htm