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Good Friday -- April 21, 2000

Fr. William Sisterman

St. Dunstan's Anglican Church, Minneapolis, MN 

Readings: Hebrews 10:1-25 and John 19: 1-37

I had a friend one time who had a dream. He dreamed about the crucifixion and he saw Jesus the Lord nailed to the cross and the crowd gathered around jeering at him, shouting epithets, calling out to him, "If you be the Son of God, come down from that cross and we will believe you." In his dream, Jesus came down from the cross and all of the people fell down in worship, and Jesus claimed His kingdom. My friend said, "That was the worst dream I have ever had." 

If we could embellish on his dream, suppose we were to dream that Jesus our Lord was born of a woman in Bethlehem and as he was pushed out of the womb of his mother, he cried out his infant cries with His clenched fists. His Father heard the cry and was pleased and mankind was saved. Or suppose the young Jesus living at Nazareth would say, "Yes," to mother and foster father in loving obedience and his heavenly Father would be pleased with that and our sins would be washed away. Suppose that Jesus on the night before He was to die, as he knelt in the Garden in Gethsemane and sweated blood, that his Father saw it and was pleased by this and we were saved. Imagine that Jesus never ever went to the cross. Can you imagine such a thing? Why? Why is it that you and I would set aside this time, this Good Friday, to reflect on the death of Jesus Christ our Lord on a cross? Couldn't our God have done things a better way? Couldn't he have done it a simpler way? Certainly he could have done it in a less bloody way. 

Why? Why the cross? He could have redeemed us in a variety of ways. He could have redeemed us with just with a word as he forgave the woman in adultery: "Go now and sin no more." With a word he forgave her. And with a word he could forgive all of us. No, that was not his plan. His plan was to endure the cross. For what reason? 

I think there are two good reasons. The first if rather negative, but very important. It is to impress upon mankind, that never seems to get the message, the enormity, the gravity of sin. What sin is in the eye of an all-holy God. It is an abhorrence. Our God would detest sin and what sin does to his creation to the point that he would give us an example. To what lengths he would go in order to rescue us from that evil. He would send his Son into the world to die ignominiously on a cross. Can we comprehend the idea of what our sins mean to God? What they have cost - the death of Christ our Lord? A second reason for the cross. A simple one too. Because you and I have been taught by the Lord that unless we in turn pick up our cross daily and follow him, we cannot be his disciples. Those words mean much more than that we are to endure in some stoic way all of the awful things that come along. Rather, you and I are a part of the redeeming activity of the Son of God. As we pick up our cross daily and follow him, as we become one with him in his suffering, so we can be identified as one with him as disciples and eventually one with him in his resurrection. That is a marvel for us to behold. 

The suffering that we endure, the physical death that one day we will all undergo, are redemptive elements in union with the suffering and death of our Lord. Redemptive means that they lead ultimately to our resurrection. It would have been an awful thing for Christ our Lord to have proved his divinity by coming down from the cross. He proved His divinity and the immensity of His love by remaining on that cross and breathing his last, surrendering his spirit, giving it up in order that his Spirit might animate his Church, you and me. 

No wonder this day is called Good Friday. It is sad. It is grim. Yes. But it is good because this is the day of our salvation. This is the day that the Son of God mounted that cross and suffered and died in order that you and I might have life. The day is Good! Good Friday! 

Please note: These sermons are offered for your meditation. If you wish to use them for some other purpose or republish them, please credit St. Dunstanís Church and Fr. Sisterman.