Through Betrayals

grayscale photo of a statue

Good Friday – 15th April 2022

Our journey through Lent now brings us to this dark moment—betrayal.

Jesus entered humanity in the Middle East. We marked his birth in December, the month of where the days are shorter and nights longer in that part of the world. We looked Forward to Christ’s Coming, preparing for Christmas Day.

Christ entered as a beacon of light to a dark world. During Christmastide we recognised Christ Is Here among us. We enjoyed the Christmas season.

Our attention began to shift in January. Royal magi from the East came to bow down before Jesus. We began to recognise the Power in Christ’s Presence. Continuing through the end of February, we saw how Christ’s presence was transforming our lives. We learned we could go from good to great.

But then came Lent.

These past six Sundays and 40 other days, we have been Walking with Christ. Our Lenten Journey has countered contemporary prosperity Gospel teachings. This Lent, we have walked with our Lord through:

  • Temptations
  • Disappointments
  • Setbacks
  • Contrition
  • Persecutions
  • Misunderstandings, and today
  • Betrayals.

The Gospel passage for this solemn day covers 60 verses: John 18:1-19:20. Today, we have heard the passage and its parallel Gospel readings through music.

Technical difficulties meant we were not able to upload the recording of our service. It was powerful. The atmosphere was sombre. The acoustics provided by our 100 year old building were heavenly. The organ bellowed throughout the brick walls and high arched ceiling. The musicians voices verberated beyond the natural and transported us back in time to the Gospel events as we listened to The Crucifixion, a Meditation on the Sacred Passion of the Holy Redeemer, by Sir John Stainer.

We began in the Garden where Jesus was betrayed by one of his own disciples.

Have you ever suffered a betrayal in your life? Do you remember what you felt? Do you remember the overwhelming sensation of helplessness?

Through the skill of these musicians today, we heard expressions of our Lord’s agony. His closest most beloved disciples could not even watch and pray with him for one hour.

Have you felt disappointed in your closet friends? When you needed them the most they just couldn’t be there for you? They say all the right things but their actions confess you are on your own. Lonely, isolated, trapped in your internal world of spiralling thoughts, grasping for something solid to grasp, you feel betrayed.

Through the gift lovingly offered by our musicians today, we were present at the trial. Jesus was arrested under false pretences and tried for crimes he never conceived let alone commit. And we learned of further betrayal by false witnesses: persons who have heard him teach and experienced his ministry. They lied.

Have you ever been the victim of someone’s lie? Do you not still feel the depth of sorrow in your heart? Is there not that weight of sadness heavy on your chest?

Through the dedication of our musicians, we were able to feel the betrayals suffered by our Lord. As the instruments played, we were able to experience the procession to Calvary.

Have you experienced an inevitable fate? Was there a time when you were forced to face a consequence that you dreaded? Every minute that passed as you were dragged through that time became more burdensome than the previous minute, did it not? Perhaps like our Lord you suffered a physical collapse?

Walking with Christ through Betrayals triggers in each of us personal pain. Oh how it draws me to love Jesus more on this particular day in our sacred calendar over most others. On this day we see how he bore our sin, our sickness, our sorrow. Jesus died on my behalf. Jesus died for you.

In this tragic story presented today through the power of music and talented musicians, we are confronted with the fact that WE are the ones who betrayed Jesus in a time of need. WE are the ones who betrayed Jesus in the Garden. WE are the ones who betrayed Jesus publicly. WE are the ones who caused him to collapse under the weight of the cross.

YOU are the reason Jesus died on the cross.

Praise God the story does not end there. The hymn of the cross we are about to sing brings the story to another level. The cross of suffering, shame, and sacrifice becomes our healing, glory, and salvation!

When we survey the cross and its story, we see wonder. We realise that our houses, our cars, our bank accounts, our properties are all nothing but objects of pride. We should not boast in material possessions but in the death of Christ. For it is in the sacrifice of his blood we see Love.

They crowned the King of kings with a wreath of thrones. Banging it down onto his head, they drove those spikes downward for blood to flow upward.

And that is the first part of the Gospel story: Jesus died for you. Do you not owe him your soul? Our life? Your all?

Published by St Johns Papatoetoe

Presbyterian Church, Hunters Corner, Papatoetoe, Auckland, New Zealand belonging to Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (PCANZ).

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