Today nearly a thousand of us gathered at the cross at Granger Community Church. Worldwide, millions of Christ-followers will gather sometime today around His cross. For centuries the cross has been a central icon for worship. It has also been one of the most popular pieces of jewelry in the world, worn by everyone from the Pope to pop stars. In 21st century America it is a symbol, a charm, a relic with diverse, if any, meaning.
In its day, actually in it’s darkest night, it meant death. Brutal, painful, humiliating death.
So, today we paused to remember. And then life went on.
Between Good Friday service and Easter our lives go one. The mall is open. The Krispy Kreme hot light is on. A bunch of us will eat dinner out. We’ll go home tonight and turn the TV on. Between now and Easter, we’ll shop for family dinners, clean out a closet and go to the open mall.
Life goes on.
Which raises an observation, a question. Is it possible that in observing Jesus’ death, we miss his years of living on this earth?
Is it possible that we can adore and cherish an event that seems untouchable for most of us? We’re glad he did what he did, and most of us will never have to do the same. Is it possible we move away from Good Friday untouched by his death because we missed his life?
- Jesus challenged his disciples prejudice when he sat with the lady from Samaria and forgave her sin.
- He challenged their elitist thinking when he told them to stop bashing those who were healing others, even though the "healers" were not from their holy huddle.
- Jesus showed them what sacrificial giving looks like when he turned the widow’s offering of pennies into an object lesson of sacrificial love.
- He showed them that meeting physical needs in his name was as holy and as spiritual as meeting “overt” spiritual needs when he healed the lame and blind, fed the hungry, and raised the dead to life.
Jesus spent his life doing what he said in his death: “I love you.”
I hear Jesus say:
“I want you to know by understanding how I live that my death is about love. It is about being the Passover Lamb. It is about God’s justice being satisfied in my death. It is about good overcoming evil, it is about atonement (at-one-ment). It is about demonstrating the very heart, the law, of God. It is about love.
“I’ve lived my life to say so. I’ve lived my life the same way I’ll die – thinking of others. I’ll say it like I’ve been saying it – love isn’t easy. Love costs. Living love costs life.
“And yet, dying to self to love others is the only way to live… really live."
And it’s exactly what Jesus meant when he said, “follow me”.
“Watch the way I love. Watch the way I interact with people. Watch the way I give, the way I touch, the way I speak. Watch what motivates my decisions.
“In living, in dying, in raising to life again, that’s my life – to love.”
Indeed Jesus came to die. But he also came to live.
It’s Good Friday. And life goes on.
How will we live? How will we love?
We have the opportunity, the call, to not merely wear a cross, but to live – and die – on one.
When asked which was the "greatest commandment," Jesus answered:
“'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.' And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”