Iesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum
Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος ὁ Bασιλεὺς τῶν Ἰουδαίων
ישוע הנצרי מלך היהודים
It is said that the Romans would crucify only the most heinous offenders of the empire. They would often set the cross at a cross-road so passers-by could look upon the condemned and fear the just and mighty arm of the emperor. A couple of guards would sit near by, to make sure the sentence was carried out to completion, while the dying slowly drifted into non-existence…naked, broken, and alone. Above the condemned hung a description of the crime, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews.” Sarcastic, but profoundly accurate.
This morning, the morning of Good Friday, a group from a number of local churches gathered at Crosby Lane Beach for a prayer walk – a time to reflect on the work of our King on the lonely and violent cross. The skies were grey with clouds, the air was crisp as it rushed passed your ears, and the seas churned with the passing morning showers. Upon a small hill we stood a simple wooden cross draped in purple cloth – a reminder of both the humility and glory that took place on that day upon that lonely and violent cross.
I walked alone through the sea grass, 50 yards or so back from the beach. The brown, dead grass moved with the air. The uneven, sandy path lay before me. The silencing rush of wind surrounded me. Save for the temperature and the sound of crashing waves, I could nearly imagine myself to be walking the hills around Jerusalem. I stopped for a moment to survey the beauty of the land around me, and as I turned to look back upon the way which I had come I could see that simple wooden cross draped in purple cloth. It stood lonely on the hill, surrounded only by the swaying grass and the grey skies above. As I paused I could feel the loneliness of Christ on the cross – “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” – abandoned by his followers and friends, with only a few guards keeping watch and a few loving women mourning near by.
Christ endured the lonely and violent cross so that we may never be lonely again. The Father’s arms are open to us because He was forsaken on that day. The embrace of the church is open to us because He brought it into being on that day. We are safe from all harm because He endured the horror of the cross, giving us hope that if we too endure whatever befalls us, in faith, we will enjoy forever the eternal love and glory of our Father.
Good Friday is the day in which all sin converged to produce horrific violence and crippling loneliness. But without Friday we would never get to Sunday.
May we endure in the glorious name of Christ, our Savior. Amen.