Good Friday Homily By The Rev. Marcia McRae
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Bainbridge, GA, 2015
Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; 5:7-9; John 18:1-19:42
As we see Jesus hang on the cross today, we do not despair.
We are Easter people. We know what happens next!
We hear & see things in 3s today, as we experience this 2nd portion of the 3-part drama: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday & the Vigil that leads us to Easter.
● 3 times Peter says: I am not his disciple. I am not. I am not!
● Pilate says 3 times, I find no case against him. I find no case...no case...
● The Crowd cries: Crucify him! Crucify him! Crucify him!
● The crowd cries for Jesus' death at the 3rd trial Jesus endures: an
informal trial by Annas, a trial with Caiaphas the high priest, finally Pilate sits as
● Pilate has the inscription on Jesus’ cross written in Hebrew, Latin &
● We have a trio of Marys near the cross: Jesus' mother, his aunt, &
● Hanging on the cross Jesus gives us a 3-fold lesson in being human:
He takes care of his family.
He completes his work.
1st The Son fulfills his responsibility: He arranges for someone to take care of his mama. He does this hanging on the cross. Family duties often call us when we feel pulled in all directions. Look to Jesus on the cross.
2nd Jesus says, “I am thirsty.” He admits his human need. He is like us. We thirst, feel worn out, confused, bewildered. Rest. Ask for help. Jesus’ understands. His disciples feel bewildered, confused as he is arrested & snatched away. Why would we think we can avoid feeling bewildered or confused as life goes awry?
3rd Jesus declares once & for all: “It is finished.” His work here is done. Humanity’s brokenness can start to heal. The barrier we caused between us & God is torn down. God's Love triumphs. The Love of God the Holy Trinity – Father, Son & Holy Spirit – does not “fight to win...[Love] fights to love.”1
God believes each of us is worth the effort. If God does not see us as worth the effort, why would Jesus die on the cross? God loves you. No exceptions. All are welcome. This is the reality of the heart that stops beating on that cross.
The heart of the matter IS that Jesus dies on that cross to create for us our new relationship with God & with each other. In our new relationship, God writes God’s law on our hearts. We read this in Hebrews. Some translations say: “I will...inscribe it upon their hearts.”2
God inscribes the law on stone tablets for Moses to take to the people. God inscribes the law on our hearts. In geometry to inscribe is “to draw...one figure within another figure so that the inner (is) in the boundary of the outer at as many points as possible”3.
God inscribes God’s law on our hearts so that it IS in the boundary of our hearts at as many points as possible. This anchors our hearts to God so that we can know God more deeply than we can know facts. This anchors our hearts to God so that we can remember that God forgives. God blots out our sins & says: "I will remember (your) sins no more."
In our technological age, God erases our sins so completely, they can’t be retrieved from God’s hard drive.
One way to erase a hard drive is to drive a nail into it. I am told that's hard to do. It is easier to drive a nail through human flesh & into the wood of the cross to erase our sins from God’s memory.
God forgives. God remembers no more. God renews a right spirit – a steadfast4 spirit – within (us).”
With our renewed, steadfast spirit, we can share the Good News of God's powerful, healing Love. Whether in big or small ways, we work with God to bring our fellow humans into the freedom we enjoy.
Irritating as our brothers & sisters in the human family can be, they are “not a problem to be solved but...a mystery to be known.”5
Within that irritating brother or sister “is an image-bearing soul, loved by God & waiting to be known by you. Building a relationship is always costly [just ask Jesus], but it's worth the cost because it's an investment in another living soul.”6
On the cross, Jesus lives fully the truth about us: You are an investment worth the cost of my life.
The American College Dictionary. C.L. Barnhart, Ed. in Chief. New York: random House. 1966.
Barclay, William. The Gospel of John. Vol. 2. Revised Edition. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1975.
Barclay, William. The Letter to the Hebrews. Revised Edition. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1976.
Book of Common Prayer. New York: The Church Hymnal Corp., and The Seabury Press. 1979.
DeGroat, Chuck. toughest people to love: how to understand, lead, and love the difficult people in your life – including yourself. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2014.
Dios Habla Hoy: La Biblia. Nueva York: Sociedad Bíblica Americana. 1983.
The Four Translation New Testament. Minneapolis: World Wide Publications. 1966.
Handy Dictionary of the Bible. Ed.: Merrill C. Tenney. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. 1965.
Harper’s Bible Commentary. General Ed.: James. L. Mays. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers. 1988.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary. General Ed.: Paul J. Achtemeier. San Francisco: Harper & Row Publishers, 1971.
Holy Bible. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Holy Bible with the Apocrypha. New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. 1989.
Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. 2004.
Lectionary Page. http://www.lectionarypage.net/. Accessed: 6 Feb. 2015.
The New American Bible for Catholics. South Bend: Greenlawn Press. 1986.
New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds.: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 1977.
1 DeGroat, Chuck. toughest people to love. P. 95.
2 Jewish Study Bible: Jewish Publication Society TANAKH Translation. New York: Oxford University Press. P. 991.
3 The American College Dictionary. C.L. Barnhart, Ed. in Chief. New York: Random House. P. 628.
4 New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. Eds: Herbert G. May, Bruce M. Metzger. New York: Oxford University Press, Incorporated. P. 695.
5 Ibid. DeGroat. P. 92.