Worship | 12:00 p.m.
“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)
The cross of Good Friday is the definitive expression of the Christian gospel. The centrality of the cross on this day marks the clear departure point between the faith of the Church and religion in general. It is a great irony of history that an instrument of Roman oppression has become the most recognizable symbol of Christian worship, but the cross also stands as the key to unlocking the internal logic of the Christian faith. There can be no Christianity without the cross which means there can be no faith in Jesus that avoids the call to take up one’s cross.
This, of course, runs contrary to the way the passion story is told over Holy Week. While Jesus is submitting his body to the brutality of the cross for the sake of the world, the disciples each scramble to cover their flanks. This makes them the most easily relatable characters of the story. To be born in our culture is to be initiated into a life defined by self-protection and self-promotion. We avoid the cross at all costs. And while the gospel makes clear that the point of our lives is not to experience the cross but rather the resurrected life, it is also equally clear that there can be no new life without laying the old life aside—a point made emphatically clear by the words pronounced at baptism, “You have been crucified with Christ, and risen to new life.” Good Friday confronts us with the uncomfortable truth that there is no path to freedom that does not run through a life
SPIRITUAL PRACTICE: Good Friday Worship
As you ponder the depth of God’s love made manifest in his cross-shattered body, ask him for a vision for life that is beyond self-fulfillment. When you look at the cross, what questions does Jesus ask of you? In prayer, ask him to reveal what you are truly living for, and what needs to be set aside in order to free you to pick up your cross and follow? Finally, thank Jesus that his vision was fixed on the joy set before him so that he was willing to endure the cross.