Today we acknowledge and mourn the death of Our Lord on the Cross. My Orthodox brothers and sisters will of course acknowledge this day on April 30th. I have no quarrel with you about dates or timings – y’all use a different calendar than we do, and that’s fine. The point is that we are all part of the same glorious tradition and revelation that goes back to the days when the living God walked this Earth and dwelt among us.
Even those who do not share our faith can see and understand that the world has gone seriously wrong. The power of evil seemingly expands every single day. Not one of us is immune to its allure and strength – and it is a hideous strength.
Nearly two thousand years ago, that evil achieved its seeming apotheosis over all of Mankind. Under its influence, and due to our own blind stupidity, we murdered the man, who is God. His fellow Jews, who committed that act, freely took upon themselves and their children the blood-guilt of murdering an innocent man.
“And the earth shook, and the rocks were split”
The magnitude of that crime was such that Nature herself recoiled. Historical records from around the world – not merely the Levant or the Mediterranean powers – show at the very least a remarkable confluence of events. The world shrank into darkness, and terrible natural disasters wracked the Earth. And who could be surprised? After all, we received the greatest gift of all time, given to us by the Father’s hand – and we spat upon Him, cursed Him, reviled Him, and killed Him.
And yet… three days alter, Our Lord walked among us once more.
Unbelievers will find these things nearly impossible to accept. I understand completely. I used to be one of them. The idea that a man could rise from the dead and walk among us is INSANE. But, if that man is also God, then the story makes perfect sense. Every aspect of the story of Jesus Christ – the greatest story ever told – makes sense.
Who other than God could die for us? Who other than God could take our crimes and sins upon himself? And who other than God could rise again from the dead to prove the power and worth of His promise to us?
This is a day for mourning – but it is also a day for hope and faith. Yes, evil walks among us. Evil is within us – every single one of us. And evil has left its mark upon us – quite literally, these days.
But evil does not OWN US unless WE LET IT. And as we shall acknowledge in just a couple of days, evil has no power over us whatsoever, not really.
The God-man proved this to us, two thousand years ago. He proves it to us every day. All we have to do is to listen and watch for the signs.
Our God is Marching On
So have faith, brothers and sisters, and do not despair. God, through His beloved begotten Son, already defeated evil, long ago. We are merely living through that evil’s attempts to maximise collateral damage. The fact that those attempts are proving EXTREMELY successful, merely tells us the magnitude and order of the fight.
And be grateful, brothers and sisters. Kings and generals of old used to have to send spies and scouts ahead of their armies to figure out where the enemy lay. We don’t have to worry about that. The enemy’s greatest concentrations of strength have already revealed themselves.
We know where they are. We know who they are. And we know exactly how to beat them.
Revel in the fight. Delight in the war. Be grateful for the chance to take up arms in service of our God. Understand this, and understand it well: you do not fight alone. Like all true warrior-kings and great generals, our King fights in the fray alongside us, with us, guarding us at all times.
He stands at head of our ranks, terrible in stature, resplendent in glory and bearing mighty weapons against which no foe can stand.
“We few, we happy, we band of brothers” – we stand in the shadow of the glory of our King, and we march with Him.
March with a smile on your face and joy in your heart, my friend. Know that your Creator has a purpose in mind for you. Ask Him what your purpose is, and He will tell you – one way or another.
You carry His banner into the war. And He marches with you – every step, every mile.
A Minor Change in Plans
Finally – there will be no Friday T&A segment today. I will not profane the day of Our Lord’s death with tawdry displays of the flesh.
That’s what Saturday is for. You’ll see the post that would normally be up today, tomorrow morning.
John 19:17-37, English Standard Version
So they took Jesus, 17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.[d] But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,
“They divided my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
The Death of Jesus
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus’ Side Is Pierced
31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”