From the Manse

In my previous appointments Good Friday walks of witness have used Jesus' seven words (sayings) from the cross as their focus. It was and remains a powerful way to enter the events of Good Friday.

It is the forth word that for me most captures the sense of abandonment that Jesus must have experienced. His closest followers had in fear dispersed; Judas had literally sold his friendship with Jesus; and Peter, the appointed leader of Jesus closest friends, denied even having made his acquaintance. Yet throughout those events and his engagement with the military authorities it appears Jesus is comforted by knowing that he had God on his side. But then Jesus speaks these words from the cross ad destroys any sense of comfort he and we may have gleamed from the thought that Jesus was there supporting him throughout the horror - 'Eli, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' that is 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'

From Jesus' lips comes this cry of utter forsakenness - These words, that turn out to be the same words spoken in Psalm 22 by Israel's perceived greatest king, David. Ironically King David felt himself abandoned by God, but wasn't. Jesus, on the other hand apparently was. Yes it was temporary, but through the horror of those hours of crucifixion it must have felt like eternity.

Yet it turns out that it was all for the sake of love. Love for those who put him on the cross, love for those who denied and betrayed him, love for us. It was, as Martin Luther in the 16th century maintained, the 'Glorious Exchange'. In other words, Jesus came to take away our sin that we might come into a right relationship with God and each other. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians explains this great exchange like this: 'God made him who had no sin to be sin for us , so that in him we might become the righteousness of God'(2 Cor 5:21).

As we draw near to recalling and celebrating the momentous events of Easter once again hold on to the fact that the cross of Jesus is more than a model of sacrifice, it is in fact the Lord's great rescue mission on your behalf and on behalf of all people.

With every blessing to you all.

John