Holy Week, Part IV
Good Friday is chaos. It represents the pre-conceived notions we often have for our lives (relationships, family, career- even our purpose in life) and it can throw us into darkness. It demands faith to endure; and just like Israel in their exodus, wandering through the desert- facing famine or captivity, we have to cling “to the belief that God is still God even if it really doesn’t look like that” today.
A seemingly tranquil week, filled with anticipation of what Christ will do, is unhinged and the disciples hopelessly watch their friend and rabbi suffer the trial and judgement of a criminal, dying on a cross outside of the holy city of Jerusalem. It didn’t make sense. Why? Why did this happen? How could this day be good at all? This whole week, and this year’s Holy Week in particular, shows us that God uses the brokenness and sorrow of our lives to create something new. It is a symbolic dying to self, which is always painful; and when we let go of who we think we need to be, God is free to transform our lives into something beyond what we could have imagined. We must be willing to let go; we have to let go of our vision, our goals, our lists, our “rights”. Until we let go, we sink deeper into chaos.
That chaos defines our character and our faith and it is “about a new work of God which springs up just when all seemed lost in darkness and futility.” Good Friday brings about an accomplished work. Jesus finished it! He paid for our Sin and conquered the chaos of the world. He has provided a way out for us. But we have to die too – die to me. (above quotes taken from N.T. Wright’s Christians at the Cross)
Scripture: John 19:1-16 (NLT)
Then Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him.“Hail! King of the Jews!” they mocked, as they slapped him across the face. Pilate went outside again and said to the people, “I am going to bring him out to you now, but understand clearly that I find him not guilty.” Then Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said, “Look, here is the man!” When they saw him, the leading priests and Temple guards began shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” “Take him yourselves and crucify him,” Pilate said. “I find him not guilty.” The Jewish leaders replied, “By our law he ought to die because he called himself the Son of God.” When Pilate heard this, he was more frightened than ever. He took Jesus back into the headquarters again and asked him, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave no answer. “Why don’t you talk to me?” Pilate demanded. “Don’t you realize that I have the power to release you or crucify you?” Then Jesus said, “You would have no power over me at all unless it were given to you from above. So the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.” Then Pilate tried to release him, but the Jewish leaders shouted, “If you release this man, you are no ‘friend of Caesar.’ Anyone who declares himself a king is a rebel against Caesar.” When they said this, Pilate brought Jesus out to them again. Then Pilate sat down on the judgment seat on the platform that is called the Stone Pavement. It was now about noon on the day of preparation for the Passover. And Pilate said to the people, “Look, here is your king!” “Away with him,” they yelled. "Away with him! Crucify him!” “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back. Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus away.
- What parts of your life have experienced chaos lately? We all have plans and dreams of what lies ahead and we can often find ourselves disappointed with how our life has unfolded.
- How much time do you spend dwelling in the chaos and disappointment of life? Do you play the “what if” or “if only” game with yourself?
Instead of dwelling in the chaos that has permeated your life, I want you to encourage you to do this exercise today:
1. Take a piece of paper and write down the chaos in your life. It doesn’t have to be an essay; use a word to represent an event or suffering (making a list is totally fine, bullet points, et cetera).
2. Acknowledge your pain and give it a moment to be validated.
3. Know that it’s okay to be sad. And know that it doesn’t have to actually be resolved today (it probably isn’t that simple).
4. Now, tear it up into unrecognizable pieces and say, “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 2 Cor 5:17 (NLT)
5. Lay your burdens, sorrow, grief, disappointment, and chaos at the feet of Jesus. It is finished!
Jesus, Man of Sorrows, I am reminded that today, you bore the sin of the world and you did it willingly so that we could be free of pain and the shame of sin. Bring stillness into my chaos and cause me to be aware of your presence in my life. As I take each breath, make me more aware of your goodness and beauty. Plant the desire in me to be faithful to prayer each morning and night – and in all the moments that I can share with you, inviting in your truth and peace into my heart. Amen.