Good Friday is a day that exposes us.
The rest of the calendar year we can imagine that we are one of the disciples, lovingly following Jesus, doing our best to live as God wants us to live.
But on Good Friday we remember.
We remember that before human beings could be united to Jesus, first we had to be exposed.
We had to be exposed as traitors, like Judas. We had to be exposed as cowards, like Pilate. We had to be exposed as fair weather friends, like Peter. We had to be exposed as murderous and gullible, like the crowds.
We had to be exposed as people who would sacrifice their own God in order to ease their anxiety.
On Good Friday we think about Jesus on the cross, and we shudder because we aren’t so sure we’d be one of the faithful women who stays by his side even through death. We are afraid we’d be a member of the crowd. If Jesus were killed today, we might just be one of the internet commenters sure that if he had just followed the rules, just done what he was supposed to do he wouldn’t have been killed. We would shake our head, and found a way to blame him for his own death.
Good Friday exposes us as complicated people. We love God, but are too broken to follow him perfectly. We are Christian, but we are also sinners. We are redeemed by God, but we are still anxious, judgmental, addicted, selfish, controlling and out of control.
You would think Jesus would wash his hands of us. Any rational God would roll his eyes and walk away from humanity as a lost cause.
But Jesus does not walk away. In the Gospel of John, Jesus calmly walks toward his own death. Jesus never loses control. Jesus knows he will be betrayed by these disciples who loved him, even Peter who swore up and down that he would be loyal to the end. Jesus knows the crowd will betray him. Yet, calmly and in confidence he continues to follow his Father’s will and stays connected to humanity, even at the cost of his life.
God sees all of us. Everything about us is exposed to God. He knows every nook and cranny of our hearts and minds.
The miracle is that God sees all the worst parts of us and still treats us with unlimited love and affection. He remains loyal to us, even though we are disloyal to him.
God looks right at us, full on, and asks us to follow him–just as we are, broken and all.
If you go back and look at Jesus’ speech to his disciples before his death, he does not spend the speech berating them for their sinful natures. No, his speech is full of encouragement. He doesn’t blame the disciples for his impending death. He tells his disciples when he goes to be with the Father he will prepare a place for them. He assures them that they will never be alone, because he will send the Holy Spirit as an advocate for them. He reminds them that their job is to love one another.
Even when he encounters them after his resurrection, Jesus does not seek recrimination for his death. He says, “Peace be with you.” and then he sends them forth into the world.
Good Friday exposes us, but God calls us his own and wishes us peace. He liberates us from our sin, he offers us freedom from the broken parts of our souls that hold us back.
This Good Friday, as you sit exposed before God, may you experience God’s peace and love. Amen.