GOOD FRIDAY 30 March 2018,
•• Isaiah 52:13-53:12 •• Psalm 31 ••Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9•• + John 18:1-19:42 ••
Title: “Good Friday: Scandal”
[__01__] Scandal. Scandal is the loss of or damage to reputation caused by an actual – or apparent violation of propriety, a violation of what is right.
Scandal also leads to conversation, lots of talk. [e.g., it’s .. T.M.I. ; M.Y.O.B. But if you are my B.F.F., tell me what I need to know! ]
Many take guilty pleasure in the details of a good scandal. And, as they say in Hollywood where fame is your fortune and air-time is money … in Hollywood, they say, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”
[__02__] On Good Friday, we always read the Passion Gospel of John, the Gospel of John in which the focus of the evangelist is on his credentials, his competence, his identity as Lord and Messiah.
This is particularly true in the Gospel of John where we read these “I AM” statements. We read this in the beginning of the Passion.
It seems, at first, that these “I AM” answers are only a response to a question of ordinary personal identity and getting the face and name connected, i.e., they are just trying to figure out who is on the police report.
“Are you Jesus the Nazorean?”
“Yes, I am…”
But, there is more the “I am” statement, a response in which the Lord affirms his names-and-numbers of his identity.
When Jesus says “I Am”, he is identifying himself with God, God who said – to Moses – “I Am Who Am.”.
This is blasphemy. This is scandalous, to his listeners, to his community.
In other Gospel Books, Jesus is not recorded as saying this. The focus is different.
In the other Gospels, he says, “Who do you say that I am?” But in the Gospel of John, he says,
· I am the Good Shepherd
· I am the Bread of Life
· I am the vine you are the branches.
· And, to Pilate, yes, I am a King.
It was a scandal that Jesus should assert this in the first person singular present tense: “I am.”
His detractors and adversaries enjoyed this and they create a trial and it led to 3 experiences for him in this scandal.
On Good Friday, he was a …
… each of which was/is scandalous in its own way.
[__03__] 1st. [►CAPTIVE (CAPTURED)]
The innocent one – Christ – is a captive, captured, and convicted.
That’s pretty scandalous that he Son of God is captured, arrested and thrown in jail.
Even in the early Church community this was difficult for some people to understand. How/why would the Messiah be captured, arrested and thrown in jail?
Why would he give up his life? SCANDALOUS!
[The innocent person suffers.
The letter to the Hebrews, today, testifies that Jesus, the Son of God, our High Priest and Savior is able to sympathize with our weakness [our fragile state] because he has been similarly tested in every way.
Have you been called a name? Have you been misunderstood by your friends and family? Has your kindness been rejected – made you wonder if it was worthwhile?
It is a proof of our love for others that we give charitably (which is often recognized) but also that we endure wrongs patiently (which is often not recognized and often more difficult).
Often, it is not noticed that we are enduring a wrong, enduring a fault. [No publicity is bad publicity! Alert the media!]
Jesus is captured, a captive, convicted. But he is also contending…[►CONTENDER (CONTENDING)]
[__04__] 2nd. Jesus as [►CONTENDER (CONTENDING)]
When we think of “contending”, we may naturally consider something competitive like a sports game, track meet, or other contest.
Jesus is contending not only physically with his adversaries, but also intellectually, mentally.
He is the intellectual superior in this drama and trauma.
By “intellectual superiority”, I do not simply meant that he contended by a higher-percentile GPA, SAT, ACT, IQ or what you and I associate with breeding or prestige.
He is using his intellect, his mind, his spirit also to speak up for himself and to give his captors a chance to repent.
He is trying let Pilate off the hook, but Pilate does not understand what Jesus is talking about.
[It’s scandalous what Jesus is saying. And, it’s sometimes scandalous for us if we speak up for what is right or what Gospel/Church teach about the tradition and sanctity of marriage, about the dignity of life at all stages. This is scandalous to some people. It is difficult. But, we are contending – speaking up for another person’s rights or speaking up for our own rights. ]
[For example, Pontius Pilate how is not only culpable but also just very very gullible is told by Jesus that his position, his company car/chariots, palace, bodyguards are not going to be seized by Jesus and his disciples. In other words, my kingdom does not CONTEND with your kingdom. At least not right now.]
Jesus is a humble contender, against Pilate who is certainly the “house”and the favorite here, trying to bring Pilate along…but Christ also realizes how enormously difficult it is for Pilate to understand Christ’s kingship. Yet, Jesus is contending for his rights and reminds us that it is consistent with humility and virtue to speak for our rights against those who might try to capture or corner us.
It is consistent with humility to speak up for our rights.
[__05__] 3rd. Jesus is [►COMPASSION] personified.
This is also scandalous because it contradictory, paradoxical.
Jesus is compassionate.
To be compassionate means not simply that we do something kind and walk away but that we stay with – and suffer with – another person.
The gift of Jesus is that he suffers with and suffers for our sins.
He is convicted for our sins. He puts our sins to death on the cross. He is contending, fighting for your salvation and for mine.
And, while convicted for being a earthly-civil-rebel, or civil-disobedience-type-of rebel (the legal claim/charge: see Luke 23:2) he is really trying to build a heavenly kingdom. It was not his miracles or parables that got him in trouble but rather – as my seminary professor – Father Lawrence Porter instructed us - that he developed a following. Others felt threatened. They captured him.
His response: “Forgive them Father they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Do we endeavor to forgive those who do not understand us?
It feels scandalous at times.
[__06__] On Good Friday, our Savior reminds us that he is convicted – yet innocent. He is the innocent captive and intercedes on behalf of all innocent captives and intercedes on our behalf if/when we endure bad credit history with people long after we have paid our sinful debts.
Jesus is contending, persevering. He speaks up to his captors, using his mind, his intellect. Doing so, he is not telling us that we must have a witty comeback for every injustice, but simply that we are called to return a blessing, a prayer, when we are insulted or wronged:
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5:9)
And, that we are also called to be compassionate because we also have been set free by God’s love and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, his death and resurrection. His scandal is our salvation. [__fin__]