“It is finished”
Good Friday
30 March 2018

The Gospel of John 19:17-30

 

I took the photo of the twelfth station of the cross recently, whilst visiting the Stella Maris Guesthouse in Haifa. All the stations of the cross and of Jesus had been defaced. This one depicting the crucifixion had been totally vandalized and removed. The perpetrator had removed the image of Christ crucified. For Christians around the world the stations of the cross are very important for reflection especially here in Jerusalem. It’s not unusual to see groups from all over the world throughout the year, and on Good Friday carrying a large cross, as they re-enact Christ’s footsteps on the Via Dolorosa, which means the ‘way of suffering’.

For Palestinians living here in the holy land the Via Dolorosa is not a re-enactment but a daily reality, as they pick up their cross daily. The stations of the cross are a reminder of Christ’s and their way of suffering. It reminds them of the injustices and violation of human rights they continue to face. The stations of the cross are a daily experience for both adults and children taken by soldiers in the middle of the night, man handled, in many cases, falsely accused and facing charges and imprisonment.
There is the continued restrictions on movement, land confiscated, lack of water. Gaza teetering on the brink of catastrophe. There is the continuous threat of house demolitions, and collective punishment. The people of the land live in occupied territory and harassed by those in power and authority, many are not in control of their lives facing daily struggles and fear. It seems the same effects of occupation were experienced during the life of Jesus. In chapter 19, Pilate said to Jesus “don’t you know I have power to free or crucify you.” to which Jesus answered “You would have no power over me unless it was given to you from above.” Pilate tried to use his power in the outcome of what would happen to Jesus. Jesus’s response was non-violent, whilst stating his authority by saying “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin”!

The soldiers took Jesus’s belongings, which didn’t belong to them, dividing them amongst themselves. It’s less than a week since the crowds shouted their praises as Jesus rode as King into Jerusalem. Pilate placed a sign in the three languages declaring Jesus of Nazareth, as the King of the Jews. Those in authority tried to change such action and words for all to see, but were unsuccessful. 1 Corinthians 1:23 states, the cross is a stumbling block for the Jews and foolishness to the Greeks. Many today are offended by the cross and consider it foolishness, whilst others cling to it.

Jesus suffered greatly at the hands of his accusers, beaten, bleeding for the sins of humanity and for all people of every nation, for Jew and Gentile alike. Yet in the midst of his extreme pain and facing death, he looked on his Mother and the disciple he loved with great compassion and said “Woman here is your son”, and to his disciple “here is your Mother”. Even in his final moments he cared deeply for their needs, and made sure that they would be cared for by each other. Jesus said “it is finished” and bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

We long for a day when those facing occupation, human rights violation, fear of the future at the hands of oppressors, for parents and children who have faced such heavy loss, are able to “say “it is finished.”

In the words of a hymn:
Yet silently as morning breaks,
the risen Lord is found
A battle fought beyond the grave
has ended with a shout “he saves”!
And life walks from a borrowed cave,
now holy ground (Gareth Hills)

Prayer: Lord today we pause to remember your sacrificial love that shone light into the darkness.
That bore life from such emptiness , that revealed hope out of devastation.
That spoke truth through incrimination, that released freedom in spite of imprisonment
and brought us forgiveness instead of punishment.
Thank you that we can now walk in the light of your life, hope, truth, freedom and forgiveness. Help us to have compassion to care and help one another this day and everyday.  Amen.
(A short prayer from www.lords-prayer-words.com)

Devotions written by: Angleena Keizer

 

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