Good Friday, 2014
Deacon Jim McFadden; St. John the Baptist C.C.
Can you imagine what must have transpired in Hell when Jesus died on the Cross? No doubt some serious infernal celebration must have erupted when the Son of God breathed His last. Think of a diabolical version of the World’s Cup Final, Super Bowl, World Series, and NBA Finals all wrapped into one. The scene would be mind-boggling: Only someone with the talent of a Dante or Milton could convey the apparent triumph of evil over good.
For one day, Satan reigns triumphant—he is striking High Fives with his minions: the snake in Genesis has struck the heel of God; the dragon in Revelation has devoured the Child at last; God’s Son sent on a rescue mission, has ended up on a Cross like some kind of brutalized scarecrow. Oh, what a diabolical victory!
But, what a short-lived victory! In the most ironic twist of all history, what Satan meant for evil, God meant for good. Their confrontation is cosmic in its implications. There can only be one ultimate sovereign—who is going to reign supreme over all of Creation?
While Satan appears to have the upper-hand, Jesus’ death on the cross was necessary to bridge the gap between a perfect God and a fatally flawed humanity. On this awful day, which we triumphantly call Good Friday, Jesus, who became sin, willingly fell victim to sin, and finally died to sin, would defeat sin through His Father’s power. Take that Satan! There is a unitive and creative power that is victorious over non-Being. Sin killed the Son of God—which shows just how powerful sin is. This is the worst moment in salvation history: the second Person of the Trinity in the form of Jesus’s humanity, DIED! But, the same power that created EVERYTHING from nothing, that became the Word made Flesh, that sustains the entire universe in its being, transformed Death into everlasting Life—and this process begins on Good Friday. Deal with that Satan!
One thing that Satan must have delighted in was that sin and death, especially the death of Jesus, creates such estrangement between God and His children. With the triumph of the Cross, God has His family back! We’re coming home and Satan can’t do a thing about it!
How good and powerful our loving God is. He took the worst thing that could conceivably happen and turn it into His greatest victory. No wonder the symbol of the Cross has never gone away; no wonder that Jesus commanded that we never forget it; no wonder that the Cross became a necessary condition for discipleship.
Brothers and sisters, we are here today because the Cross gives us hope. We are not saved through the miracles of Jesus. As Isaiah prophesized, it is through the Servant’s wounds that we are healed. If God can wrest such cosmic and ultimate triumph from the jaws of such apparent defeat, can draw such strength and power from a moment of utter weakness, what might God do with the apparent failures, uncertainties, and losses of our own life? If God can overcome sin and death, can’t he transform our brokenness?
The answer is a resounding ‘YES!’ NOTHING—not even the murder of God’s own Son—can end the relationship between God and human beings. The life that we share with God is meant to endure for eternity. And, in that mysterious alchemy of redemption, that utterly villainous crime becomes our healing strength.
The fatally wounded healer of Good Friday came back on Easter, just as he said he would. As the prophet Ezekiel reminds us, God fulfills his promises! From the perspective of Good Friday and Easter, we now can preview all of history, including our own, from the vantage point of eternity, when every loss, wound, scar, hurt, rejection, failure, and disappointment will be seen in a different light. Nothing is lost! From this eternal perspective, everything is part of the journey—the lost parts can be reclaimed and integrated into the triumph of Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
Ironically, our faith begins where it might have seemed to have ended—on this day, the day Christ died. Between the Cross and the empty tomb hovers the promise of history: hope for the world and hope for each one of us who lives in it.