Friday, April 6, 2012

John 19

     God's (Good) Friday according to John. Pilate's is ambivalent, he wants to release Jesus but has him flogged and crucified for political expedience. Jesus carries his own cross (the other Gospels mention Simon of Cyrene helping) to the place of crucifixion. Crucifixion was supposed to horrible. It was the worse torture device known in the ancient world. It was used by the Romans to strike fear in the hearts of subject people. It was considered shameful. The victim was crucified naked in a very public place (town squares, main intersections, even market places). Families would disown and generally not speak of the crucified. It was common for the crucified to be refused burial. The whole process was not mentioned in "polite" society.
     Details have meaning. What is remembered and what is recorded is done so because it is imbued with special meaning. John emphasizes that Jesus "legs were not broken" (19:32-36). It is worth remembering that a sacrificial lamb could not be offered if it had broken bones. John is using this detail, on the eve of Passover, to remind the early Christian community that Jesus was the ultimate passover lamb who was slain for the redemption of the world.
     Here comes our old friend Nicodemus again. Did you see who is helping Joseph of Arimathea? Nicodemus who came to Jesus in the darkness and confusion in John 3 has returned as a secret disciple and one who is assisting in Jesus burial. I love this part of the story. I love knowing that someone who was dazed and confused in earlier chapters has some critical things sorted out for his life. I would love to attend a St. Nicodemus church it would be a church for those of us who were confused about the truth and religion but found faith and hope and love in a relationship with Jesus.
     On Good Friday I am always drawn to a great sermon I learned about in an African American congregation. The preacher pointed to the cross and lamented that it is Friday. And Friday is bleak, and dark and painful and filled with sorrow. It is Friday, he said. But Sunday's coming!

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