Dear Sweet Leona,
Your momma is not typically a lover of celebrating Good Friday. It’s in my nature to skip to Sunday and focus on the joy and peace that comes with the Resurrection. While much of the Christian world finds solace in the thought of substitutional atonement and remembering the brutal death Jesus endured, I find it so difficult to rest my mind and heart on sorrow when I KNOW the joy is coming.
But, this year, as I have meditated on Luke 22 and 23, I have found new encouragement from Friday’s story. You see, just the evening before during the Passover meal, Jesus’s disciples found themselves in a debate regarding who was the “greatest.” Even after 3 years of daily living with the Messiah, the human condition of sinful pride and grasping for power and influence still crept its way into the hearts of Jesus’s closest friends. In response, Jesus challenge his disciples to re-evaluate their definition of power and greatness… He reminded them that human institutions of authority lord it over others, but that God’s kingdom invites leaders and life-givers to make themselves the least among their peers. Specifically, Jesus states, “Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves…” Then, John’s gospel tells us that he demonstrated his point by washing their feet and the next day dying on a cross instead of taking up the sword to defend his new kingdom on his own terms.
You see, service, lowering yourself, sacrificial bending, and humility are not weakness. These postures do not bring about loss of power or self-deprecation, but instead they are the example Jesus gave us for how to be true life-givers and kingdom-bringers in this world we live in. When we meet Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane just a few hours later, we witness his wrestling with this truth, which makes me wonder what it took for him to surrender to this plan of death.
Often times I think we are great at “surrendering” to all kinds of life circumstances, but when our physical health is threatened we shake our fists at God and wonder how we could trust in a God that allows pain… But I think the story of Good Friday should help us re-order our minds toward what it can look like to surrender to suffering and pain with an eye to the uncertain future. Jesus met this fate with a mindset of abundance, “Yet not what I will, Lord, but what you will.” His innermost being was full of the faith that this plan was in fact goodness, even though it was through unimaginable suffering and pain.
God’s been asking for our partnership since Genesis 1, and Good Friday is the ultimate reminder of what it takes to partner with our good Creator and find the life that is truly life.
As you grow, I know the world will ask you to grasp to the human institutions and lean on securing your own power for yourself. I pray you will learn from our Lord to humbly surrender yourself to the needs of others around you, because in doing so I know you will find the well that never runs dry welling up and pouring out from within you.
When we truly surrender to the Good Friday story of sacrifice, selflessness, and service, we are able to live the joy of Resurrection Sunday.
Scriptures for Further Study: