April 10, 2020 Good Friday "Lent, what’s in it for me? Nothing but...Jesus’ passion"

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and Jesus, our suffering Savior and Lord.  This entire Lenten series has been leading up to this point.  All through Lent we’ve talked about drawing closer to Jesus or what’s the point?!  We looked at the importance of making our Lenten season about focusing on Jesus by just simply looking at Jesus’ name. 

We talked about the “J” standing for Jehovah, the Hebrew word for “I am.”  That name helps us know God wants to be in our every waking moment and for us to be there too.  Not wandering off into the future fears or wallowing over past failures but stay here in the moment, the I Am.  So God is in the moment with us, beside us to befriend us, above us to watch over us, behind us to encourage us and hopefully if we invite him, the great I am, inside us to inspire us and care for us.

We looked at the letter E in Jesus’ name standing for “El Shaddai.”  El the Hebrew word for God and Shaddai being a descriptor for God.  Shaddai means desolate places.  God reigns even in the most desolate places.  Like in the isolation form a disease. 

We discussed why the first S in Jesus could stand for our Good Shepherd.  We shared how the U in Jesus can stand for how unique Jesus is.  No one can lead us to the Father other than Jesus and his grace. Then we revisited the last S in Jesus’ name and examined what it meant to have a savior. 

Last night at Maundy Thursday we talked of Lent leading us to not only the wonderful name of Jesus but to Jesus’ amazing love. On that night in which he was betrayed, despite knowing the very folks he was loving on would betray him Jesus gave us his followers the command to love one another as he loves us and the command to share his meal of love and forgiveness.

Tonight, we examine that part of Jesus’ love for us that goes beyond mere sentimental love, deeper than brotherly love, this is a love that passionately pours it all out.  In tonight’s scripture readings we hear how Jesus held nothing back in his love for us not even his life.  That’s why this week is not just referred to as the love of Christ but the Passion of Christ.  Love can sometimes be mistaken for a notion but passion definitely denotes action, and full out commitment. 

Passion is the culmination of love.  We hear of folks who love something so much that they live and breathe their passions.  They’re passionate for football teams, Disney collections, Star Wars cosplay, etc.  We applaud their “passion” their adherence, dedication, perseverance, sacrifices as testimonies to their “true love.”  Too much of our existence today is a “whatever” kind of passivity; too many people walk around with a "don’t care, don’t give a hoot" mentality.  So, we encourage people by telling them great live your passion!

The problem is the passions people live for are for the silliest things! Did I tell ya before they’re passionate about Disney, football, Star Wars?! Why is it the "majoring in the minors" is so okay with people today?  But people with a passion for world peace, sustainable living, health care for all... are the nut cases?!  We aren’t comfortable with those kind of passions.  Perhaps that’s why Good Friday has become the overlooked holiday of Christianity.  We're not ready for, we're not comfortable with Jesus' passion that might actually change the way we live, the world we live in.

We may not want to look at Christ’s cross because of the pain and suffering it represents but there is no better testimony to God’s love for us, God’s passionate love for us than that cross. There is no “whatever” when it comes to God’s love for us.  There is no passivity as if God takes the attitude “what’s one lost sheep out of a hundred?”  Each sheep counts, every lost sheep is worth searching for and returning.  That passionate search for lost sheep goes all the way to the cross, and literally in Jesus’ case to the grave and back.

Perhaps, that is why the “old rugged cross” is such a favorite song?  Its such a stirring reminder of the passion Christ has for us and hopefully the similar passion we have for him that we're finally willing to lay down our trophies.  But truth be told, Jesus' hard to fathom passion would be silliness, insanity, or tragedy if it all culminated at the cross.  If the story of Jesus’ love and passion ended with a headstone in a cemetery we’d probably not notice his passing.  If Jesus’ passion ended with a grave marker would we notice?  If we did notice we’d probably question it as silliness to sacrifice his life for sinners.  If we did notice we might do more than question his silliness, we might be critical of his sanity.  Did he really believe things as set in stone as hate and death could be overthrown by love and life?!  Really?!! If Jesus’ passion ended on Good Friday, we might shed a tear for the tragedy his life turned out to be but not much more. 

But we know something that makes this day "Good" Friday.  We know something the world doesn’t understand.  Our faith gives us a truth that unbelievers can’t fathom and a passion non-Christian can't experience.  Because It’s only Friday…. Sunday’s comin!  Amen