Today’s scripture moves from the arrest of Jesus to his death on the cross and laying him in the tomb. As I read these verses I was flooded with memories of Good Friday services growing up, of the sanctuary growing dark as the altar guild ladies quietly stripped the front of the sanctuary of any adornments. And every year we’d sit it darkness and listen to the soloist sing, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”
In our minds we tried to imagine the fear the disciples were feeling, the guilt that Peter was feeling, the condemnation that Judas was feeling. And most of all, we tried to wrap our minds around the love that Jesus was pouring out over all of it. It’s an interesting thought, but though we were not there physically when they crucified our Lord, we are living in a day that by-and-large rejects him. Denies him. Mocks him. And yet we still find Jesus, pouring out his love over all of it.
One Easter I spent the weekend with my Grandma and Grandpa at their farm. So instead of going to my home church for Good Friday, I went to their tiny church in the country with a beautiful white steeple and stained glass windows covering every wall. My grandpa was asked the read parts of the passion interspersed throughout the service. The service began in the light, but slowly the sun set and the lights were dimmed and by the end of the service, he got up to read Jesus’ last words in near blackness. He held a candle, so all I could see was his shaking hand, the flickering flame and the glow of his face. Grandpa was very old then, and he struggled to read the words in his Bible, “It is finished. Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
And at the age of 12 I had a real understanding that Grandpa would die one day. But that because of the very words he was struggling to read, he would actually live forever.