Friday, 6 April 2007

Good Friday 2007

John 19:31–42

“Now it was day of preparation - the next day was to be a special Sabbath”.

We are in the period before the special Passover Sabbath.

And at the Passover we remember how, about 4000 years earlier, the doors of the houses of the people of Israel had been daubed with the blood of a lamb, so that the angel of death would ‘pass over’ their homes and only visit the homes of the Egyptians.

And in our passage, Jesus has been shown to be the Passover lamb
- there is the reference to the hyssop plant (v29): the hyssop was used at the Passover feast
- there is the reference to Jesus unbroken bones (v33,36): the lamb that was to be sacrificed had to be ‘without blemish’
- there is the reference to the flowing blood (v34)

And in case we’ve missed the connection between Jesus’ death, and the death of the Passover lamb, we’re told that today – the day that Jesus is executed – is the day of preparation, when the sacrificial lamb is to be slaughtered.

So just as the blood of the lamb ‘covered’ the people of Israel in the first Passover, so Jesus’ death ‘covers’ those who come to him.

And here is the climax of John’s gospel. The point that the story has been leading up to from that moment when John the Baptist said: ‘Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)

So here we pause. We pause between the death of Jesus and his resurrection.

It is a timeto reflect.

1) Jesus has freely given himself to death on the cross. Throughout the passion we have seen how Jesus has been totally in control
2) His death has been fully in accordance with the will of God as revealed in Scripture

And as Christians, in our experience, we live in this pause moment.

Yes, Jesus rose from the dead – and we live by faith in that event.

But in our experience we live in a pause moment. We live in the time in between the cross and resurrection of Jesus and all that it promises, and the final resurrection and transfiguration of all creation.

This is a period of witness: “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe”. (John 19:35)
And we bear witness – to the witness of those who saw these events.

But it is also a period of waiting, of patient endurance.

It is a very ‘human’ time: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus care for the dead body of Jesus in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

This is a time when we need to get on with life: living, loving, eating, working, praying, playing, giving, laughing, weeping, politicking, resting, listening, speaking, travelling, competing, seeing family and friends, caring, visiting, nursing, building, teaching, buying and selling, gardening, farming, burying.

I suspect that with all their love and devotion and sacrifice, Joseph and Nicodemus thought what they were doing for Jesus’ body was the final instalment in the life of Jesus. They did it with love but without hope.

They got a surprise!

But because we live after cross and resurrection, we can get on with ordinary life but in a new way – with hope.

And our hope is that:

Ø God is ultimately in control. He is certainly in control throughout this story
Ø God loves us. ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son’
Ø We are forgiven. Jesus death was for the forgiveness of sins.
Ø The Holy Spirit is given to us (there are many different interpretations to the ‘flow of blood and water’ (v34). I guess I’m drawn to the idea that the water is a picture for the Holy Spirit. It certainly ties in with how John uses the picture of water in the rest of his gospel. So we can say that as the life of Jesus flows out, so the Holy Spirit is also poured out on us. As someone said, ‘the real death of Jesus is the real life of men’
Ø Death is not end: this world is not all that there is.

“Now it was day of preparation. The next day was to be special Sabbath”

Nobody quite realised how special it was going to be. It really was the first day after the new Passover: the first day of the new Passover feast. We live now in the time of that new Passover period.

And because of the cross and resurrection, in our experience, we live with hope, waiting for the new dawn and the new era of the final resurrection.

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