Is 52:13-53: 12; Heb 4:14-16; 5:7-9; John 13:1-19: 42
We faithful are confronted with the death of the Lord today. Do we believe that there is life beyond death, beyond the grave? Who will save us from ourselves? This is the dramatic question presented to us by this Friday we call Good. Why do we call it Good? The answer: The old order, the old covenant, is ended. The blood on the doorpost of the Jews at Passover (of which we heard last night in the Exodus account) has been changed into something much greater. The new covenant in Christ’s blood has begun. From his pierced side, flowing blood and water, comes baptism and Eucharist. Augustine says this: “On taking upon himself the death He found in us, He has most faithfully promised to give us life in Him, such as we cannot have of ourselves”; that is, life beyond the grave. Last night we heard that the angel of death passed over the houses of the Jews whose door posts were marked with the blood of the lamb. St. John Chrysostom reminds us today that the devil and all forces of eternal destruction, flee before Christ’s “true blood on the lips of believers, the doors of the temple of Christ.” Christ washes us of sin (Baptism) and nourishes us with his own blood (Eucharist). Blood and water and save us eternally for life with Him. This is why we call this Friday, Good.
Each one of us participates in the passion of Christ in some way, to varying degrees in the things we suffer. In this we confess our common need for Christ to save us from ourselves, from our own messes, our sins. Whatever pain, whatever hardship, whatever heartache, whatever disappointment we carry confronts us with the reality that we need a savior: someone who saves us from our helplessness.
This is why we venerate the death of the Lord. As you come forward to venerate the cross and the body of Christ broken, lay before the crucified Christ your own suffering and pain in your present life. This is where you meet the Lord’s dying. Tomorrow night we rise with him. Tonight we hold the death of the Lord deep in our hearts. Now we remain with Jesus the Christ, dead for us, for our sins, to wash them away in his blood.