Good Friday 10th April | Sermon
My God, My God why have you forsaken me?
Readings :Psalm 22, Mark 15:33-34, Isaiah 53
In year 30 CE, about 3pm Jerusalem’s time, on a Friday, the gospel of Mark 35:3335 “33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land[b] until three in the afternoon. 34 At three o’clock, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, eloi,lema sabachthani?”] (which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) Psalm 22:1. In the spirit of Good Friday it is meant to represent the goodness of God who allows his Son Jesus to walk the path of death and His resurrection to be the ultimate gift for our salvation. Good Friday or God’s Friday, or Sorrowful and holy Friday, symbolises God’s loving grace as John 3:16 says “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Good Friday is about God’s completeness in this mission of saving us from the power of darkness, death and provides a path forward for humanity to His everlasting presence and kingdom.
My first point of reflection for today is this : God who works majestically, mysteriously in the “darkness that came over the whole land” to reveal His divine plan of salvation to all creations. What does this text imply?
In Mark’s gospel, we are told in verses 33- 35 of chapter 15, that at about 12 noon to 3 pm on Friday, year 30, this historical events did actually occurred. Eye witness accounts from the commander/ centurion of the soldiers who said “Truly this man is the Son of God”. According to Mark, the statement from this centurion is perhaps the first ever written record of a testimony outside of the Jewish community and faith declaring the Messiah hanging on that cross is the Son of God.
Another aspect of this story is very intriguing, when it was still in darkness and the echoes of Jesus final laments crying out loudly “ My God, My God Why have you forsaken me? the veil that separates the sacred space of their worship ie.. Holy of holies was torn into two from the top to the bottom. This sacred holy place is only accessed by the high priest and they normally enter this sacred space once every year. What is the story behind this episodes. Firstly, the tearing of the veil can be interpreted that God shows the intent of His judgement that whatever is happening inside this sacred place needs to be scrutinised and re-examined, We can recalled from Marks previous chapters that Jesus on Sunday during his triumphal entry his mission is to bring the kingdom of God to this temple and to come and clean what Prophet Jeremaih said “ his house turned into a den of thieves”. Secondly, we can also interpret that coming into God’s presence is open to everybody not only to class of high priests and other upper sector of society. This theology of domination and suppression need to addressed and stopped for the sake of the justice to all and our equality in the presence of our God. Jesus death torn that social divide constructs and allowing our faith and humility to gain access to the presence of God.
Other witnesses according Mark 15:40-41 “women looking from afar,” also affirm this historical fact which laid the foundation of the Jesus absolute truth as the way to eternity in the presence of God. It is good news to the women for their bravery and commitment to follow Jesus even to his death and the first to the tomb in the third
day. Where is the men, the disciples and followers not seen on this day.. I leave that questions for you guys to answer during this easter weekend.
To reflect theologically, we can be rest assured of the authority and power of our Creator of the universe and that divine power hovers over any or transcend over and through any physical, spiritual, invisible or visible realms and domains of authority, structure, hierarchy, patriarchy, religious, cultural, economic, political constructs of our universe. Psalm 24:1 re-affirms this fact that the Everlasting Omni-potent God that creates this earth and those that dwell in it, and the Almighty One has founded his authority upon the seas and established his dominion upon the waters.
In parallel application, Genesis 1:1-3, also express the same principle of God’s spirit declares its presence even at the void, the formless earth, the ‘darkness was on the face of the deep’…”and the divine spirit of God hovering over the face of the waters”. Darkness is a metaphor for sufferings and pains that Jesus went through. But at the end of the third day from Friday, Jesus sufferings ends and the prophecy of God’s victory over the power of darkness and death comes out victorious.
So in that analogy, the darkness that covers the earth at that hour depicts the seriousness of that cross and the person that is wrongly accused and crucified. It is basically a message that the darkness and the cross shows the degree of that excruciating pains that Jesus has experienced that “ anyone who believes son of god will be saved”. Darkness is this context is expressed the sufferings that Christ will endured so that the divine plan of God will eventually surface and rose up after the third day to show us the Way, the Truth and the Life. Prophecies are also being fulfilled in this darkness episode in Marks’s story. Amos 8:9 “In that day,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I will make the sun go down at noon and darken the earth in broad daylight”. Again this prophecy fulfilled at this 12 noon to 3pm on that Friday, Year 30. As you ponder on this truth, my prayers that we allow the spirit of God that hovers the deep and the darkness will reveal to us in His own way the meaning of the talanoa in Mark’s gospel about the darkness that covers Mt Calvary, at the cross of crucifixion of that time.
At home, we are overwhelmed by the news of this small invincible pandemic virus, COVID-19. We are instructed to stay in our bubbles. It is a wise decision by the state. We can adhere to their very pro-active instructions, to stay-put/lockdown/ don’t break the bubble. We adhere to simple instructions; wash your hands, social distancing, stay safe in that bubbles [Pacifica – No social kava please].
If we apply our lessons from today, we can justly say that we are experiencing a
period of darkness in our homes, in our church, in business, its economy, the restriction to flight locally and internationally. The arms of service by the government, health authorities responding to this crisis in order to control, monitor and trace the impact of COVID-19 and its economic, social, health and other impacts to us and our economy and our general wellbeing. But let us be assured of God’s provisions especially in our hour of darkness.
God’s moves over and through the deep core of our darkness. That is the message of Christ on that cross crying out for the last time “My God, My God why have you forsaken me? It is a message of sufferings and pains but in echoes and intent of that cry, God the Father allows that sufferings so that at the third day, the power of darkness is conquered through the resurrections of Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour of this world. What happened on that Friday, 30 CE and that cry for help “My God, My God why have you forsaken me?” and Jesus ultimate death and resurrection is more sufficient for us to carry us through today and forever more. Amen
Gracious and Compassionate God, Your grace is all sufficient for us The echoes of that lament by Jesus on the cross, Shows the depth of pains and sufferings. Yes, Gracious and Compassionate Lord. You simply allowed your Son, Jesus, to go through this road of pain, grief and miseries in the fulfilment of your divine plan: salvation for all.
As Prophet Isaiah 53 said “Surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed”
We thank you that you have allowed your Son Jesus to go through this humble path of humility to the cross of Calvary for the fulfilment of the suffering messiah prophecy, Grant us your everlasting peace in the spirit of Good God’s Friday.
That we may overcome the fears of COVID-19 and all its power. May you spirit hover over and through the grip of our own shadows and sheer darkness. We confess that Jesus is our saviour and has risen from the perils of death. In God’s mighty name we pray. AMEN
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