“And God saw everything that was made. And God said, ‘It is very good.’”
But from that moment on, humanity went on to speak back to God. Everything is not good.
There are times when good people do good things.
We celebrate Nobel prizes for peace and local heroes who put their lives at risk to better the lives of others.
But everything is not good.
Power and fame become goals for teenagers and politicians; for corporate leaders and for gangbangers.
Being human, we believe, means choosing to do some things well and choosing to do other things
out of a hunger to make ourselves better by pushing others aside – even to hurt or kill.
That’s what it is to be human we simply say to ourselves;
as if to offer a perfectly acceptable answer for the sad, bad, and even evil things we find ourselves choosing.
But out of simple word, God chose to create sun and moon, planets and our planetary home.
Out of simple word, God created waters filled with living creatures and lands filled with plants, animals, and us. And out of simple word God chose to meet humanity’s life’s predicament.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him.
In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it……
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.
From his fullness, we have all received grace upon grace upon grace.”
He rose up from being buried by water in the Jordan to have God speak the words:
“This is my Son, the beloved. Listen to him!”
And, like a conquering hero, he told the devil that his days of power and control were numbered.
He quoted words of scripture to his family to reveal his mission.
“The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; release to the captives; sight to the blind;
freedom to the oppressed.”
He called out “follow me” and taught a new philosophy that the poor would inherit a kingdom;
those who hunger would be filled; those who weep would laugh.
He even said “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
But now, the Word who is part of creation’s goodness;
who became human in a stable; who taught and preached and healed and even raised the dead;
this Word incarnate is now treated like the enemy.
All those very human traits – selfishness, lust for power, fear of loss- seem to hover around him.
Judas, one his closest, brings soldiers and temple police with torches and weapons to arrest him.
And with simple words of identification (“I am he”) they fall to the ground.
But because he loves his own so much, he allows those powerless power-seekers to arrest him.
“I did not lose a single one of those whom you gave me,” he prays to the Father.
Peter, another of his dear friends, has the opportunity to show himself as a brave disciple
but, instead, three times Peter declares with an oath, “I am not!”
Words, words, words!
Annas and Caiphas, men who know the words of scripture and who offer
sacrifices on behalf of the people in the Temple use words to trick the
Word-made-flesh into giving them an excuse to have him killed.
“It would be better to have one person die” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for Caiphas.
The Jewish leaders want to have this Jesus of Nazareth business finished!
Pilate challenges the Word-made-flesh to a verbal duel.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” “So you are a king?” “What have you done?”
“Don’t you know that I have the power?”
But when Jesus challenges Pilate to think about what is really true, all he can do is throw his
hands in the air and proclaim, “What is truth?”
So, in the end, Pilate puts on a show for the Jewish leaders.
He releases a terrorist because they will not allow Jesus to go free.
He allows the soldiers to beat Jesus; flog him;
place a crown of thorns into the flesh of his head; dress him mockingly in a royal robe and
orders him to be crucified.
Getting up from Gabbatha, the seat of power, Pilate gives in to the angry crowd.
Do you really have power?
Echoing through his mind are his own words“what is truth?”
Finally,Pilate is just happy that he is finished with Jesus.
It is finished, he fools himself into thinking.
But just to make sure he has covered all the bases, he commands a label to be placed
on the instrument of Jesus’ torturous death:
“Jesus of Nazareth; King of the Jews.”
He wants to be finished.
But he does not have the power to finish it.
Neither do the Jewish leaders.
Neither do the soldiers carrying out the punishment.
Neither do the disciples who run away and hide.
Neither do those few who stand at the foot of the cross while he hangs between two criminals.
The Marys are there: the wife of Clopas, Magdalene, and his mother;
and with them the disciple whom he loved.
“Woman, here is your son,” he breaths out to his mother.
To John, he speaks, “here is your mother.” And John remembers the night before
when, washing the disciples’ feet,
the Word incarnate gives a new commandment; a new word never spoken before:
“Love one another as I have loved you.”
Having taken care of those he knows he will leave behind, he offers one more word of broken humanity:
“I am thirsty.”
And then with the power and authority of the Word which was in the beginning with God at creation;
with the power and authority of God who so loves the world, with one word
It is finished!
It is accomplished.
What was planned from the very beginning; what all the power of church and state could not stop;
what has puzzled and confused people from that moment until this one; GOD DIES FOR HUMANITY.
Episcopal priest, Amy Richter writes:
“And so Jesus’ word, word of Word incarnate, this one word, which we translate as “It is finished,”
is the final punctuation on a sentence begun before all that is,
before we were knit together in our mothers’ wombs,
before the first light, first life, first spark, first dream, first bursting forth of creation.
The final punctuation on a sentence spoken in love, spoken across space and time;
through ages, prophets, patriarchs, matriarchs, sages, and in these last days, spoken to us by a son:
Words. Words. Words. Words of love spoken through teaching and preaching;
love reaching out, healing, embracing, lifting up;
calls “beloved” those whom humanity calls wrong.
Those whom humanity bullies and batters;
those whom humanity sees as poor, weak, small, outcast, sinner, “other”;
these now become sisters and brothers to one another; children of God;
those who would dare to lay down their lives for the Word-made-flesh because,
finally, with truth and power and authority and glory
IT IS FINISHED!
This is now a GOOD Friday.
The Word of God incarnate has spoken the word that sets us finally free:
IT IS FINISHED!