MY daily reflection and prayer:
Friday, April 3, 2015: Good Friday
Dear my friends,
Here is the Gospel for us today according to St. John 19:17-30 (for fuller passage see: John 18:1-19:42)
“So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews’.
Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek. The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, The King of the Jews’, but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews’. Pilate answered, ‘What I have written I have written’.
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be’. this was to fulfill the scripture. “They parted my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots”. So the soldiers did this.
But standing by 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 near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
After this Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the scripture), ‘I thirst’. A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit”
This is the Gospel of the Lord. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
Normally a crucified man could last for several days on a cross before his death. But no for Jesus. He only needed three hours to be crucified on the cross then he died. Before he died, he said, ‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit to God, his Father. The Gospel records that he died at mid-afternoon.
Jesus was crucified for his claim to be King. So, Pontius Pilate publicly heralded him “The King of the Jews” as he died upon the cross. It’s why up to now we have “INRI” on Jesus’ cross, a Latin acronym meaning “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum”. In English we read it as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”.
No doubt, it irritated and annoyed the chief priests and Pharisees. They had understood that the Messiah would come as their king to establish God’s reign for them. They wanted a king who would free them from tyranny and foreign domination. Many had high hopes that Jesus would be the Messianic king. Little did they understand what kind of kingship Jesus claimed to have. Jesus came to conquer hearts and souls for an imperishable kingdom, rather than to conquer perishable lands and entitlements.
On Jesus’ cross, we find no greater proof of God’s love for us than the willing sacrifice of his Son. His words, “It is finished!” express triumph rather than defeat. So he bowed his head and gave up his spirit knowing that the strife was now over and the battle was won. On the cross Jesus knew the joy of victory. What the Father sent him into the world to do has now been accomplished perfectly.
Jesus’ cross is his triumph over his enemies: sin, Satan, and death. It is the door to heaven, the key to paradise, the downfall of the devil, the uplifting of mankind, the consolation of our imprisonment, the prize for our freedom. It is the safeguard of our faith, the assurance of our hope, and the throne of love. It is also the sign of God’s mercy and the proof of forgiveness.
In Perperual Adoration of the Eucharist, we adore Jesus Christ who by his cross has forgiven us and set us free from the tyranny of sin. We worship him, the way to peace, joy, and righteousness in the kingdom of God and the way to victory over sin and corruption, fear and defeat, despair and death.
Let’s pray: Lord Jesus Christ, by your death on the cross you have won pardon for us and freedom from the tyranny of sin and death. May we live in the joy and freedom of your victory over sin and death now and forever. Amen.
Photo credit: Ist