‘Come to the Cross’, Good Friday Homily, April 2021

‘Come to the Cross’, Good Friday Homily, April 2021

Good Friday Homily John 19:25-30. (April 2nd 2021)

This evening is about coming close to the Lord. Coming to the foot of the cross. There will be a chance in a few minutes.

We look to those who did come close to the Cross.

Four women stand there. Mary – his mother. Mary’s sister – who we see in Mark’s Gospel, called Salome. There is Mary, mother of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 3 Mary’s and a Salome.

Jesus saw his mother there.

He also saw the disciple whom he loved – we know that to be John, John son of Zebedee, John who would later write this gospel.

But who is John at that moment. He was someone who had ran away when Jesus was arrested; he was one who had consistently fallen asleep with Peter and James in Gethsemane.

Jesus says to Mary. Mother this is your Son.

John – this is your mother.

He commits Mary – his mother – into his keeping.

 It is a powerful moment.

But think of what is not said: he saw the disciple there. Why did you leave me John? Why did you run away after all you have seen me do? Why did you fall asleep when I prayed – the one time I ask you to be there for me?

John is not rebuked. He is entrusted.

 John is not disregarded. He is commissioned.

 John is not rejected. He is restored.

To be honest. If you jumped into the story – you’d think nothing had ever negative had happened between John and Jesus…

You may feel like John. You have let the Lord down.  You ran away – maybe not literally but you hid your faith when it was needed, or you know you have been failing the Lord.

Come to the Cross. John was not rebuked. He is entrusted. John is not disregarded, he is commissioned. John is not rejected, he is restored.

And you can be too.

It says: Jesus saw the disciple he loved. It means Jesus had a close bond friendship with him, as he had with Lazarus. But that phrase. Loved. As you come to the cross, you are loved. Not loved because of what you do for the Lord. But Loved. Nothing you can do, can make the Lord love you anymore, and nothing you can do can make him love you any less. He said, he and the Father are one, at the Last Supper. Jesus told a story of a waiting, running, hugging, kissing, restoring, celebrating, loving Father. That is Jesus too.

Come to the cross. Know you are loved as you come with all the stuff …

Or you may feel you are not like John. Perhaps it is a Peter you feel like. Peter is not there and you may feel, when you come to worship, you do not draw near either, you go through motions, or perhaps have been avoiding worship.  Where is Peter. Peter , after his denials likely went to the house of John – for he has a house, to which he will take Jesus mother. Maybe you feel more like him. Yet the Lord longs for you to come – in fact, we do not know how Peter was on Easter Sunday – he ran to the tomb – but it says Jesus met with Peter, privately, in a meeting that is not revealed until the Lord’s return.  All we know in John, it is recorded, after resurrection, Jesus restores him too.

Wonderful. He is a restorer, a reconciled.

We come back to the cross.

Jesus commissions John. From that hour he takes Mary to his home.

This is a night to consider. How has the Lord commissioned you? Is this a time to say YES Lord.

Or is it to kneel at the cross and seek the voice of the Lord, as to how he commissions you in this season of your life?

Or to kneel at the cross where perhaps you have been delaying – John from that hour took Mary – he did not do it later, though he had good reason to, as Jesus was dying in front of him. You want to be there when you know a person is dying…

I remember when my mum was dying. My Dad had told me the day before she was ill due to increased spread of cancer. He rang me around 7am next morning, asking me to come home. I flew in. Got picked up by my sister and a neighbor. She had perked up, my sister told me. But when we got into our home town – top of the town – Dad rang to say Mum was fading and where were we… and our neighbor drove us around as quick as he could to get to my home…

John could have delayed. If he went maybe Jesus would be dead when he returned – if he could return. But John went. The Lord had spoke, and he acted…

Jesus spoke – in John’s Gospel we heard – three times on the cross. The first we have thought about, second ‘I am thirsty’. Third. It is finished.  The Greek word is tetelestai. It means completed.

It is a work used in secular Greek. Today you pay off your mortgage – tetelestai! You complete your studies and hang your bag off a pole in your house – a weird tradition! – tetelestai. Maybe like me, you got a university loan – in my case, I didn’t have any money when I finished uni. When I was a missionary my organization had to write to get to deferred each year. Same when I was in training. Finally in my curacy – after 3 years, of payments, it was completed. Tetelestai. The last words Jesus is heard to say on that day.

Saving Private Ryan.

A film you may have seen is Saving Private Ryan, highly commended by veterans for its accuracy, by Stephen Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks and Matt Damon. 

It is a film set during WWII during the D Day landings. It is the story of a group of American soldiers sent deep into enemy occupied land to find one soldier, a paratrooper, called Private James Ryan. Why, because his other three brothers have been killed earlier in battles and the Army want him to be sent home, so his mother does not lose a fourth son. So this group of experienced soldiers are sent to rescue him. They find him in a town; already many men of this rescue group are dead. The town where Ryan is, is important. There is a huge battle with German troops.

 At the end of the film, Ryan is standing by the wounded dying Captain, the captain beckons him closer. He whispers, ‘James, earn this, earn it.’ 50 years later, James Ryan is standing by this captain’s grave in France, and he asks his wife, “Tell me I’ve led a good life, tell me I’m a good man.” Earn it. He had to earn the sacrifices of those men who died for him. He’s been haunted by those words.

Christianity doesn’t say, earn it; it says receive it. The last words of the captain, “earn this”. The last words of Jesus, in John’s account of Jesus life, when he is dying on the cross were ‘It is finished.’ It meant that Jesus had died so that our sins could be forgiven.

We were all separated from God by our sins. No way to pay them off.

There was a barrier between us and God. The ways of our sin was death – eternal separation from God.

We faced punishment for them.

Yet God in Christ, comes to earth, Jesus on the cross takes our sins. As Paul say – God made him, who had no sin, to become sin for us, so we might become the righteousness of God.

That is what Jesus mean – God gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him has not perish but have eternal life.

Sins forgiven. A way to draw to near God.  A bridge you could say. A way to receive God’s gift of eternal life.

It is finished. He did it all. We do not need to do anything. We receive it.

Have you received his gift of eternal life? Have you kneeled at the cross, and repented of your sin, believed and trusted in Christ for salvation and committed your life to follow him all your days…

 Jesus said are the words for us to remember over the years of our life. On the cross Jesus says ‘it is completed’. So, while James Ryan, was haunted by those words from a dying captain; we are to filled with joy from the words of a dying Jesus. It is finished. You have received grace.

So we can kneel at the cross in simple thanks. I don’t know why you loved me, how much it cost, but I thank you for your grace…

So. Over the music and songs which follow, there is a chance to come before the cross. To kneel. To come as you are, to bring what you want …