This is how it ends.
The joy of the incarnation, the surprising revelations at Jesus’ baptism, the years of miraculous healings and heavenly teaching, of standing up to the authorities. The backlash, the intrigue, the betrayal, the conspiracy, the kangaroo court. This is how it ends.
Jesus, dead, hanging on a cross.
The world stands still.
As we stand here, ‘surveying the wondrous cross’, as the old hymn put it, it’s only natural to reflect on what happened, on how it all went so wrong. It’s easy to shake our heads in disbelief, but honestly, it’s all just human nature and the way the world works. And really honestly, we can see ourselves at every step of the way. It’s far from a new or radical take on the story, but it’s good to do nonetheless. Where am I this Good Friday?
I am in the crowd welcoming Jesus into Jerusalem as a king, blinded by my own hopes and dreams from seeing what Jesus himself is telling me. I am Jesus, knowing the hosannas of the fickle masses cannot be trusted.
I am the religious leaders plotting to kill both Jesus and Lazarus, compelled to destroy what I cannot deny about what I do not understand. I am Jesus, rejected for disrupting the status quo.
I am Peter — Jesus’ demonstration of humble service shocks my sensibilities. I am Jesus — my love and service is misunderstood and unwanted.
I am Judas — betraying my Lord because he isn’t the lord I wanted. I am Jesus — betrayed by a friend.
I am the disciples, unable to stay awake to be there for a friend. I am Jesus, alone in the garden, desperate and abandoned by God.
I am the authorities — Caiaphas, Herod, and Pilate — not wanting to take responsibility for this mess, passing the buck, and washing my hands of the whole thing. I am Jesus, not speaking in my own defense because what could I say that would make a difference?
I am the soldiers, hearts hardened by just another day on the job in defense of the Roman Peace.
I am Jesus, mocked, derided, spat upon.
I am Mary, lost in grief.
I am Jesus, nailed to a cross, dying because of all of this — because of the sins of the world.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.
Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death. (Psalm 22.1-8, 14-15)