Our King Has Been Laid In the Tomb: Good Friday Sermon

Sermon by The Reverend Jodi Baron, Co-Rector, April 14, 2017, Good Friday, Year A, John 18:1-19:42

“Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”

In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This Friday, despite the beautiful sunshine, the beautiful prayers, and lessons we’ve heard, does not feel “Good”, to me.

There is a heaviness in the air for Christians around the world as we read the news about our Coptic brothers and sisters in Egypt… who have had to cancel their Holy Week services because of the very real threat of violence.

There is a heaviness in the air for Christians around the world as folks read the news about our own government dropping bombs on the holiest of weeks of our entire year.

There is a heaviness as we try to explain to our children why this day, Good Friday, is important, what it all means, why we do what we do…as Christians, as Disciples, as followers of this Christ.

There is a heaviness. Even though we know that Sunday is coming. Even though we know there is nothing to fear for love drives out all fear.

There is…heaviness.

Every year when the part is read on Palm Sunday and Good Friday where Jesus gave up his last breath, a wave of goosebumps rushes through my body and tears flood my eyes. Every Maundy Thursday, after we wash one another’s feet and repeat the words of institution Jesus left us with the command to follow, I choke back the emotions that well up within my heart as I say those words on behalf of God’s people and break Jesus’ body for you to eat.

Every Good Friday, when I sit in darkness and contemplate the baroness of the altar, as I miss sharing the Eucharist with my friends, and miss seeing the candles and smelling the smells, and watching the liturgical acts replayed over and over and over again… I find myself saying, “this is so hard.” “why do we do this?” “this is so hard.” “why does any of it matter?”

And then we read that one part, the part I opened with a few moments ago.

The moment in this pericope which some refer to as a “theophany” or a visible manifestation to humankind of God or a god.

“Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?”

How could he have the courage to go through with it, knowing all that was to happen to him? How could he muster up even an ounce to die for us?

I don’t get it. I don’t have an answer, because even though I would hope I could, if ever faced with such a trial, but honestly, there’s no real way for me to know what I would do.

But Jesus did. Jesus, our scriptures tell us, knew what was happening and did it anyway.

And that part hasn’t changed.

In a few moments, we are going to have an opportunity to meditate on the tool they used to kill God. Some may find it meaningful to come forward and touch, or kiss, or bow before the cross…Some may find it meaningful to observe in silence from their pew…Some may find it meaningful to exit quietly…

It is profound what our God did for us. It is worthy of praise and honor for the scorn he endured so that we may know him more fully.

Fellow Christians… Good people of St. Philip’s.

Our king has been laid in the tomb.

Our God has died.