Scripture Focus: Isaiah 53.10
Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper,
but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.
Blessed is the one who always trembles before God,
but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Reflection: Cry, Creator, Cry!
By John Tillman
The cross is not necessarily the only way Jesus might have died. As an exercise of theological hypothesis, one can entertain the question, “What if Jesus had died another way?”
In his moving epic poem, The Singer, author, pastor, and professor, Dr. Calvin Miller reimagined Jesus as The Singer, who sang the song of Earthmaker, the Father-Spirit. During his trial, The Singer’s lyre and his hands with which he played Earthmaker’s song are crushed by a mallet. Then, with his musical hands crushed into inoperability and unrecognizable form, he is stretched by a machine of death built into the wall of the city.
The people of the city toss into a hopper great stones representing the sins and crimes The Singer is accused of and the weight of them turns the great, geared, machine which, through cogs and levers, tightens the cables, stretching The Singer’s body until he dies.
The World Hater, Miller’s analogue for Satan, dances on the cables of the machine, crying out to the Creator with mockery:
“Look how he dies. Cry, Creator, Cry!
This is my day to stand upon the
breast of God and claim my victory
over love. You lost the gamble. In
but an hour your lover will be pulp
upon the gallows. Did you tell him
when his fingers formed the world,
that he would die on Terra, groaning
with his hands crushed and whimpering
in my great machine?”
Today on Good Friday, the crosshairs of the cross seemed to be centered on Jesus. Sin’s weight is heavy upon him as the hammer of God’s wrath comes down. But the target of God’s wrath is Sin. Sin dies in the crosshairs of the cross. Yes, Jesus dies, too. But for Jesus and for us, Sunday is coming. Resurrection Day. The Eighth Day. The first day of the New Creation.
But until that day comes, we sit mourning in the chaos and darkness. What we mourn, if we do so with proper understanding, is not a man’s death or a failed rebellion. What we mourn is our own participation in his trial. We mourn our own sin upon his back. We mourn our hands upon the nails and the hammer and our hands forcing bitter drink into his mouth.
What is coming is the most important morning since God first said, “let there be light.”
So, let us mourn tonight. For joy comes in the morning.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? And are so far from my cry and from the words of my distress? — Psalm 22.1
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read more about The Prayer From the Cross
So, on this Good Friday, we will join Christ in his suffering, praying excerpts from this psalm prayed on the cross.
Read more about Choose to Hope in the Cross
The two thieves represent two choices…These choices stand as constant reminders that the cross of Christ demands a response.