A reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice
April 7, 2023
Maundy Thursday was the start of what is known as the Easter Triduum — triduum, which is Latin for “three days.” Three days, which include Good Friday and Holy Saturday, in which before we get to the joy of the resurrection, we are reminded how quick we are to betray, to cry “crucify him” and to sink into the depths of despair when we are left in the limbo of loss.
Pope Francis once said that the Easter Triduum is not just the apex of liturgical year in the church, it is the apex of our Christian lives. But when I look around, it seems these three days have lost their significance.
Perhaps it is hard to embrace the Easter Triduum because it comes just as signs of life are springing forth. Amid crocuses enlivening the brown grass yet to turn to green, the choir of birds resuming their early morning introit and the return of the peepers’ evening vespers as the sun sets, these three days ask us to walk with our suffering Savior and face realities we would rather not face. Among them:
Life is hard. Jesus knew that. He and his family lived as refugees early in his life.
Life can be unfair. Jesus knows that all too well. When Pilate asked who shall be pardoned, Barabbas, the ruthless criminal, or Jesus, whose only crime was trying to make a difference in the world, the crowd shouted for the criminal to be released and for the innocent to be put to death.
Life comes with problems. How are we going to feed 5,000 people? The rough waves are going to capsize our boat. We have no more wine for the wedding banquet, only water. Jesus heard them all and attended to each and every one.
Life comes with confrontations. Jesus had his share. When he saw the three-ring circus known as moneychangers and other vendors in the Temple, Jesus confronted them, overturning their tables and giving them all a piece of his mind.
Life comes with betrayals. “The one who dips with me, will betray me,” Jesus said. And Judas, his friend, did just that, turning Jesus over to those seeking his life. Yet, even with Judas betraying him, Jesus mandated his friends to love one another.
Life comes with a cross looming on the horizon. Jesus knew that and while asking for “this cup to pass” was given strength to take that hard walk to death, trusting in great faith that no matter what, God was with him. We need not fear the cross or shun it. Rather, if we stand at the foot of it, we will be given strength. We will also hear the most powerful words this world needs to hear more often: “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Life comes with Holy Saturday silences. Like Jesus’ friends, life will bring those moments to us where we will sit stunned and dazed and wonder, “Will I ever smile again?” But before we rush to feel happy and whole again, we must allow space to process, to cry and for God to mend our brokenness as only God can do.
These three days are significant. They remind us of all that Jesus went through for us. They remind us that while joy and sorrow dance together, it is joy that will always take the lead. For that is our God — good and gracious and mighty to save. The “Alleluia, He is Risen” is coming. But right now, there’s a cross standing on a lonely hill, beckoning you and quietly asking, “How will these three days change you?”
Donna Frischkneht Jackson, Former Editor, Presbyterians Today
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Friday, April 7, 2023, Good Friday (Year A)
Today’s Focus: Good Friday
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Susan Abraham, Associate, Board Meeting Support & GA Coordination, Executive Director’s Office, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Bob Abrams, Volunteer, Presbyterian Men
Let us pray
Lord God, we have seen many Good Fridays and Resurrection Sundays come and go. Remind us anew of the extravagant sacrifice and excruciating death of your one and only son, Jesus. It is only because he took our diseases and bore our infirmities that we can stand firm through your mercy and love. Lord, we ask you to renew a steadfast love within us, as we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow him home. Amen.