The extended gospel reading for Good Friday traces the events of Jesus’ Passion – from the arrest in the garden, through interrogations by religious and civic leaders, through mocking and flogging, to a chilling act of capital punishment. It is a story we know too well, one filled with the worst that we humans can do – betrayal, denial, fear, political maneuvering, cruelty and state violence. And yet, at the center of this narrative of suffering is the one whose profound commitment to God’s call captivates our minds and hearts.
This is no conventional hero story. Like the figure of God’s Servant in Isaiah 52, Jesus in his Passion is one whose appearance and experience would seem to embody the very antithesis of divine favor or calling:
He was spurned and avoided by people,
a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity,
one of those from whom people hide their faces.
The Jesus of Good Friday has been stripped of all the signs of God’s blessing. And yet, he moves through his final hours, not as a passive victim, but with a deeply-centered sense of who and whose he is – the wounded healer through whom God’s redemptive power is being made known.
As we make this Good Friday journey with Jesus, we are called to release all our confident judgments about where and how God is at work. It may be that the people we fear or we try to avoid, the situations that take us out of our comfort zone, the things in ourselves that we would most like to cover over or from which we want to “hide our faces” – it may be that these are the very places, the broken places in our lives and in our world, where we are called to find ourselves most fully in God’s presence.
Rev. Julia Sheetz