We will gather today knowing that this evening will end in death. In fact, the struggle between life and death is what Good Friday is about. And it’s not just temporal life and death. No, this is about eternal life and eternal death. It is about a cosmic struggle between sin and righteousness, between hope and despair, between good and evil. It is about the tear that you feel in your own soul, about the good things you want to do but don’t do, and the bad things you know you shouldn’t do and yet you do them anyway. When we think about it, our lives seem to be caught up in turmoil and tension. So, it is timely to gather together, not just because it is Good Friday, but because there seems to be a great confusion and even distress these days about what life is really worth. About its value and meaning these days.
We are finally coming through a crazy time of economic shutdown in our country all under the promise that it will save lives. Human life was deemed to be of utmost importance as our country bent it medical expertise to bring hope. All that we are called upon to do was to save life. And yet, during the same time the experts are reporting that there is a dramatic rise in suicide rates in our country. Along with mental health issues that are spiraling out of control and a startling increase in drug addiction. We save lives on one hand and diminish life on the other. But it seems to always be this way. When we think of issues at the border of our country, or international skirmishes, or the homelessness problem, or hate crimes, or abortion, it seems that life is valued in so far as it moves a particular narrative forward. More and more it seems as if life is meaningful only when it is deemed useful to others.
You may have very well wondered about the meaning of your life. Examined closely. Its value, its usefulness. Perhaps you reconsidered your goals and wondered if the things you sought after were necessary. Were they useful to help you obtain your heart’s desire? What is the purpose of it all? What is the value of your days. Just what does it mean that you keep going, keep pressing on, keep striving for the good and the true and beautiful in this world?
This Good Friday, we are given some perspective on the value of our lives. Not by examining their usefulness or impact on others but by examining the life and death of our Lord. For it is on this night that we recall the brutality of His crucifixion. This night we fix our hearts upon the terror and suffering and blood that poured forth from His body on that cross. John the Baptist had pointed to Him and declared, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” And tonight, we see the sacrifice of that very lamb.
Yet this great sacrifice was no ordinary thing, it was no run of the mill offering to cover sin. No, this sacrifice was of the only begotten Son of God. This was the long-awaited Messiah. So, when we meditate on the events of Good Friday let us be honest with what is happening. The head before which angels have bowed in reverential fear is pierced with a crown of thorns. The face of the God incarnate, the miracle born in Bethlehem, is covered by the spit of the ungodly. His ears, which were accustomed to the praises of angelic hosts, are greeted with the insults and taunts of sinners. Those hands, which have stretched out the heavens, are extended upon the cross and fastened there with spikes. And His body, the sacred abode and purest habitation of the Godhead, is pierced with a spear. In fact, He was so brutalized and beaten and whipped and broken that there wasn’t much left of Him that was uninjured. Except, perhaps, His tongue. For with His tongue, He prays for the forgiveness of those who crucify Him.
The holy is defiled by the sinful. The sacred is attacked by the profane. Life is consumed by death, but not just any life, the life of the Son of God. From this we learn about the great tragedy of mankind’s rebellion. We learn that if the wages of sin are death then the only way to gain life is for one to die in our place. Good Friday is about the one who will not be deterred from securing for you life and salvation. We may very well wonder about the meaning of our own life, but the meaning of His life was never in dispute. Everything He did was out of faithfulness to our Father in heaven and out of love for us. Whether you embrace His work or reject it, whether you fall on your face in appreciation and devotion for the sacrifice He made, or just go about your day is if He had never done this great act, He still does it for you. He still gives His live for yours. He still makes the ultimate sacrifice.
And this great work, this sacrifice, this suffering and death says something profound to you today. For it speaks about your life, about the days that you have on this earth. You are not just some forgotten or misplaced people. You are the children of God. You are the brothers and sisters of Christ. You are those that he suffered for, those he bled for, those he died for. His life of meaning given for you gives meaning and importance to your life. You matter. You matter enough for His sacrifice. You matter enough for our Lord to call you here tonight, to hear again about the depth and breadth of His love.
The meaning of all life is established by the works of Christ. It is fueled by His gifts, by forgiveness and love. So, you stand at the foot of the cross, and look toward tomorrow and the days after. What will you do with the days you have left?