Good Friday Reflection

The church is very quiet.  Quiet as a tomb. None of the usual activities associated with the Triduum services.  There is a different feel.  No one will be attending the Stations of the Cross or the Good Friday service in this place.  It really is eerie how quiet it can be these days.

The day likely started very early for Jesus.  He was arrested the night before and brought to the Anna’s and then Caiaphas the High Priests’ house where he likely spent the night in a cistern below the structures main floor level.  It was Caiaphas who organized the plot to kill Jesus. He then famously presided over the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus before turning Jesus over to the Romans and Pilate for the crucifixion.

It was in the courtyard at the house of Caiaphas where Peter made his three denials of knowing Jesus Christ the Nazorean.  The church standing on this site is the Church of Saint Peter in Gallicantu and is located on the eastern slope of Mount Zion just outside the walled City of Jerusalem. The church takes its name from the Latin word "Gallicantu", meaning cock's-crow.

Jesus spent the early hours of Friday morning in this cistern, a space hewn out of the rock.  The stable where Jesus was born was also a space hewn out of a rock.  The earliest moments of his life and some of the last hours of his life inside a hewn-out rock.  Those last hours were in quiet solitude, alone and certainly the humanity of Jesus experienced the anxiety of what was about to happen.

Just after dawn Jesus would have been taken a little over 1000 yards to be set before Pilate.  Pilate was the Roman prefect (governor) in the region from 26 AD to his death in 36 AD.  He was a ruthless man who had been sent to this Roman outpost on the edge of the Roman Empire.

The crowd was incited by the Jewish leadership to seek Pilots permission to put Jesus to death.  After a mockery of a trial, the attempt by Pilate to release Jesus on account of the Passover, Pilate had Jesus scourged. By some accounts Jesus had over 600 wounds on his body – some from the crown of thorns, most from the brutal scourging, others from the wooden beam digging into his shoulders, yet more from falling from exhaustion under the weight of the cross.  He was in shock, his blood volume had been greatly reduced, he was undeniably dehydrated, and yet he endured the suffering, pain and agony of the journey to Golgotha.

We recall the Stations of the Cross, we remember the struggle.  We are aware of the nails piercing hands and feet.  He suffered so we might have life – he suffered because of the sin of our original parents.  He suffered so we know that our God has experienced the suffering and pain we experience as humans.  The loneliness, the agony, the searing pain, the wounds, knowing his friends had abandoned him out of their own fear.  He suffered knowing his moment of glory was fast approaching.

Jesus battered, beaten, bruised, bloody hangs on the cross – and it is his moment of glory.

He became man for this moment.  He established friendships, ate and drank, laughed and cried, taught and healed.  He was patient and kind, loving and forgiving, he knew what was on the heart of the Samaritan woman at the well and why Zacharias climbed the tree. He knew Judas would turn him over to the authorities and that Peter would deny him.  He knew the women of Jerusalem would weep for him and his friends would abandon him. He knew he would hang upon the cross and bring salvation to each of us.  No matter what we have done, or failed to do – we seek his forgiveness, his love and his mercy and we too are forgiven, we are saved.

The tomb is quiet it is now the Sabbath and no work can be done.  Jesus’ body is hastily laid in the tomb with a cloth covering his head and another enveloping his body.  The people will be back right after the Sabbath to properly anoint his human body.  But in the meantime, there is quiet, isolation, darkness.

We may now be experiencing this pandemic induced isolation.  Can we unite or isolation and loneliness with that of our Savior?  Can we realize our sinfulness and selfishness when we want things our way, not God’s way?  Can we realize that we are not so much being “punished” but having the opportunity to experience what Christ went through - for us? Can we take the isolated and quiet moments to appreciate the gravity and magnitude of our behavior that is displeasing to God our Father?  Can we join our moments of isolation through time and space and be with Jesus in the isolation he endured: in the cistern the night before he stood accused; the isolation of being chained to a column as he was whipped during the scourging; the loneliness as he was being mock and struck by the Roman soldiers; the loneliness as he struggled to put one foot in front of the other as he made his way to his execution; as he hung dying on the cross alone with his mother and the beloved disciple and just a few others to offer their consolation as he took his last breath saying, “It is finished”.

We know the rest of the story.  We know the happy ending.  We know of the resurrection, the appearance to the apostles in the locked upper room, the two men on their way to Emmaus, the meeting the apostles along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, the Ascension and Pentecost. But right now, we need to be in the moment with Jesus. To be quiet – to realize what has come before us, what we are experiencing now and how our actions will affect our future on this earth and into the Kingdom.

© 2020 Bagley Ministry