My Good Friday Prayer

My prayer this Good Friday, April 2, 2010…

Jesus, as we come tonight to celebrate You and Your willingness to wear the crown of shame, we do it with great joy because we know that it is finished and you are now wearing the crown of glory.  Might we come to You tonight with our friends and family knowing that You are great and we are free.  Might we come to You tonight and re-live the gospel, the good news, that You became our sin so that we might become the righteousness of God.  Might we come to You tonight and be forever changed because You are the Supreme One and to You is due all glory, honor, and worship.  Thank You Lord Jesus, our Great King.

* The picture is the crown of broken glass from Northshore’s Good Friday service.  Here’s what Christina Bothel, the crown’s designer, wrote about it: “This collage of glass illustrates the glory and the pain of the cross. The pieces of glass can be an image of brokenness and pain but also of light and glory. The glass on the crown is clear, pure, and full of light. Glory is found in both… in the light that shines through our brokenness and in the celebration of purity. But even in the celebration of purity there is the remnant of suffering.”

Passion Week (Good Friday): Crown for Crown

“But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9

Tonight is the night… the night where we experience the exchange of crowns.  We begin with the crown of shame, the woven thorns piercing the brow of God.  But we lean into and look forward to the crown of glory, the radiant splendor that King Jesus is given because of His obedience and great sacrifice. Tonight we fully enter into the tension of these two crowns fully knowing how the Great Story ends.  I look forward to seeing you tonight at our Good Friday services (6:30 or 8 pm).

Crown for crown, we’ll exchange
Crown for crown and Name for name
One of life and one of shame
Crown for crown, we’ll exchange

That crown of thorns
That He wears upon His brow
Was meant for me
But my Savior wears it now
Painful crown, full of shame
For it’s written with my name

That crown of life
That was only meant for Him
He gave to me
When He took away my sin
Joyful crown, without shame
For it’s written with my name

From “Crown for Crown” by Guy Gray

Passion Week (Thursday): The Power of the Cross

“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” Hebrews 2:14-15

As we saw yesterday, the cross is scandalous.  But as we discover today, the cross is powerful.  As we near Good Friday, we revel in the fact that this cross of death becomes the place of life.  “High King of Heaven, my victory won” because this King, through His death, pronounced death dead and the dead alive through and with Him.  Because the Divine became human, disillusionment becomes triumph and death becomes life. This is the powerful truth of the cross, and it is this great truth that has set us free.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Passion Week (Wednesday): The Scandal of the Cross

“Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:8

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

A wall in my office is adorned with crosses.  This seems strange in that the cross is the most horrifying instrument of death ever known to humanity. The Jewish historian Josephus called crucifixion “the most wretched of deaths.” The Roman philosopher Cicero said, “it is altogether so disgusting and shameful that Romans and Greeks should not even speak of it because it is not fit for good, decent people to even mention it.  It is unsuitable for polite conversation.”  According to the Jewish law, anyone who was crucified died under the curse of God.  And yet Jesus submitted Himself to this execution.  The cross is the way that Jesus Christ chose to die the death we should have died, paying the price we should have paid.  Truly Jesus paid it all.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim,
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb.

And now complete in Him
My robe His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest.

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy power and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Passion Week (Tuesday): The Completion of Crucifixion

The story goes on in John 19:16-30…

So he then handed Him over to them to be crucified. They took Jesus, therefore, and He went out, bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified Him, and with Him two other men, one on either side, and Jesus in between. Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It was written, “JESUS THE NAZARENE, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” Therefore many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin and in Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews were saying to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews’; but that He said, ‘I am King of the Jews.'” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be”; this was to fulfill the Scripture: “THEY DIVIDED MY OUTER GARMENTS AMONG THEM, AND FOR MY CLOTHING THEY CAST LOTS.” Therefore the soldiers did these things.

But standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, to fulfill the Scripture, said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop and brought it up to His mouth. Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

The trauma and tension of Jesus being tortured is still very present and real.  The moment of crucifixion has come.  The King who upholds the heavens and earth on His shoulders is forced to carry His own instrument of death upon His shoulders as He is paraded through cobbled Jerusalem streets.  After what must have seemed an eternity in His humanity, Jesus arrives at Golgatha, the Place of the Skull.  And another irony carven into a wooden board atop His cross reads “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews.”  If only we had really known.  Moments turn into minutes… minutes in to hours, and finally the final breath is exhaled with the world-changing words “It is finished.”  We thought it his death, but in reality, those words ushered into a new beginning.  “O praise the One who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.”

Passion Week (Monday): The Crown of Thorns on the King of All

John 19:1-15 tells the story of the crown of thorns on the King of All…

Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. Pilate came out again and said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold, the Man!” So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

Therefore when Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid; and he entered into the Praetorium again and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. So Pilate said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out saying, “If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; everyone who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.”

Therefore when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. Now it was the day of preparation for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour And he said to the Jews, “Behold, your King!” So they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Our first passage draws us into the tension of the Passion Week.  There Jesus, the King of All, stands before Pilate and his soldiers wearing the crown of thorns.  The King has come down to seek and save us, but those He came to rescue mock and scourge Him.  It might be easy to remove ourselves from the scene, blaming Pilate and the Roman Empire for what happened to Jesus.  But in reality, we were there.  Our sin led Him to this place.  Our treason against the King crowned Him with blood.  Yet the mysterious grace of God is present in that moment… “and by His scourging we are healed.”