How did this happen? I’m sure the disciples asked themselves – and perhaps one another – this question on the horrible Friday when they saw Jesus arrested, bound over to a trial that was a sham, and unjustly convicted as even the Roman official Pontius Pilate remarked. Ouch.
Embracing the hard question is always a good place to start. We begin with recognizing that we all bear some responsibility. Even for Christ on the cross over two millennia ago. There are no innocent bystanders when there is injustice and suffering. And for we who are Christians, there is that whole thing of, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Ouch.
Going wrong does not merit a life sentence, Jesus said. But if no wrongdoing can be acknowledged, then there is no going anywhere at all. There is only hiding and shrugging off the blame. Which is exactly what Peter did after Jesus was arrested, right? And that is a life sentence you place upon yourself. Ouch.
Accepting responsibility is the key to getting our arms around the chaos that is sin. There may be some pain to be endured. But nothing like the cross. Recognition, confession, humility, that’s where things start to turn around.
The story we hear on Good Friday is not a story asking for attention or sympathy. It is a story begging for your presence. So, attend to the cross with Jesus. With prayer, with quietness, with genuine self-awareness.
This Friday becomes Good when we join Jesus in saying, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.
And may all God’s people say, amen.
The Rev. Beth Purdum Eden is an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. She has served in more than 6 parishes in the Western United States for 30 years.