Today we think about Jesus on the Cross and all that means to us. The Cross is at the heart of our faith. It is hardly surprising that it is the Christian symbol. It took a while – years of reflection – for the early Christians to begin to grasp something of its significance and to try to put thoughts into words. Down the centuries the attempt to understand has moved on. But maybe we can overthink, and maybe it is sufficient to meditate on the simple words of the children’s hymn: There is a green hill far away, and the lines:
He died that we might be forgiven
He died to make us good
That we might go at last to heaven
Saved by his precious blood.
In his trial preceding the crucifixion, Jesus confronts the rulers of this passing age. On the surface, it is the religious and political authorities who pass judgement on Jesus. But the truth is that it is they who face judgement.
There is a freedom and a confidence in Jesus’ manner at the trial which stand in stark contrast to Pilate’s shallow scheming. He possesses an authority that rulers have never seen before.
Pilate thinks he can extinguish Jesus. Yet what unfolds is the very opposite. The Cross on which Jesus is to be crucified is the place where the victory of life is won. Billions and billions of people have been, and are being, drawn to the “wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died”. Have you ever heard of anyone who was drawn to the life of Pilate?
On the cross, Jesus, on behalf of humanity, takes pain unto death to himself so that human beings will be cleansed or forgiven and united with God. God, too, suffers in Jesus, out of his love for humanity, so that we will be united with him. That is what is ‘good’ about Good Friday.