There’s nothing “pretty” about Jesus dying on the cross. This upcoming Good Friday, let’s meditate on His sacrifice.
Welcome to Easter Week! Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a beautiful passion hymn I’m sure you know.
O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, What bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine!*
Tomorrow being Good Friday,** it reminds me of a time when I was traveling, and was far away from home. I was visiting a friend's church for the evening – it was Good Friday services. The worship team up front were leading us all in a rousing rendition of "O Happy Day”—people were waving their bulletins in time with the music and some were clapping, smiling and bouncing their babies on their hip and singing along. I don't know how to describe it, but it didn't feel like Good Friday. With all the happy singing, it just didn’t feel appropriate, I guess, is the best word. Because Good Friday is the day that we remember the awful, terrible price paid, the horrific sacrifice, the death of Jesus.
You see, I was raised in a little Reformed Episcopal Church that approach Good Friday in a more sober way; perhaps with more solemnity, I guess is the word. On Good Friday, there was always a black cloth draped over the Communion table. And usually the lesson from the Gospel for Good Friday was from Mark chapter 15-- that bone-chilling portion of scripture that describes the horrors of the crucifixion of Christ.
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I don't think it's too much to ask that we stop for one day – just one day, Good Friday – to really reflect on and meditate over the enormous, weighty price Jesus paid for our salvation. Getting back to that church service where they were singing "O Happy Day," smiling and clapping? Afterward, I got into a conversation with the friend who had brought me to church. When I shared with her my thoughts, she said, "But Joni, why do you want to be somber on a night like this? Jesus didn't stay on the cross—He arose. And that fact alone changes everything."
On the books, she is right. Still, we have a whole year of Sundays to sing happy Scripture choruses and bright rousing hymns of joy and gladness. But we only have one day set aside, on the church calendar, to specifically ponder the gravity of the wounds Jesus bore. The prophet Isaiah prophetically described the scene at the cross in these graphic terms: "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him; nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with suffering." Yes, one glad day we will enter our happy inheritance; we will shout and sing the victory but until then we have Good Friday. Visit joniandfriends.org to Tweet today’s program to your friends.
*Song: “O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” written by Bernard of Clairvaux, transl. by Paul Gerhardt and James W. Alexander, composed by Hans L. Hassler and Johann S. Bach. Public Domain.
**Note: Good Friday is April 18, 2014.
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