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Good Friday Grace

In the prayer service this morning, we just read the scriptures. I did very little interpretation. John, of course is the featured scripture, telling the story of Jesus' betrayal, Peter's denial, the mockery and brutality of the several trials, Pilate asking, "what is truth?" as Truth incarnate stands in front of him. The declarations of Jesus' innocence and the crowds calling to free Barabbas and to crucify Jesus, then the crucifixion, the giving of his mother to the beloved disciple, and his death. It is both familiar and dense and heavy like that last sentence.

Psalm 22 begin dark, but turns positive in the last half. It is good to read cliche passages afresh and be reminded that there is more to them than we remember. Psalm 22 begins with "why have you forsaken me," but at verse 19 turns to deliverance and vindication and a call to worship.

The thing that struck me this morning is the phrase from Isaiah about the suffering servant: "Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed." We might say there but by the grace of God go I, but that invokes an image of the suffering one and the "I" being the same, and the suffering in our aphorism is about the natural consequences of our unwise actions. In Isaiah, though, we are NOT the same. "He" was innocent, and we were guilty. "He was wounded for our transgressions." There but by grace of God go I because I deserve that punishment, and yet this innocent man has taken my punishment.

There's the Good News on Good Friday. We deserve, and do not get punishment. We see what punishment we are not getting when we look to the cross.


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