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Good Friday 2013
Christ Church (Parish) Church
Fredericton, New Brunswick
March 29, 2013 12 Noon - 3:00 p.m.
The Reverend Anthony Kwaw
Rector of Fredericton
The Reverend Canon Jim Irvine
Into your hands
The afternoon is nearly spent. Luke, in his telling of the story relates that the sun’s light failed and that from noon a darkness came over the whole land. Such darkness had not been seen since Egypt. This was not the sort of darkness that comes with lengthening shadows and twilight. This darkness had no celestial orbs giving even incidental light to an otherwise darken night. This darkness was no astronomical phenomenon with the Pascal moon of Nissan eclipsing the solar orb that defines the day and sets it apart from the night.
This darkness was reminiscent of the penultimate plague endured by Egypt when not night but darkness weighed heavily on Egyptians. This darkness in Egypt was a darkness you could touch and strain as you might, each one was enveloped in darkness. Caught in paralysis, all trappings of power and authority and legislative statute disappeared and Justice was powerless of three whole days.
On Golgotha this darkness is telescoped into three hours.
Luke 23: 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.
Dying felons were swallowed up in that darkness and the Centuries that stood guard disappeared in the darkness. Their cloaks, whipped by the wind sounded in their ears. Centuries shouting over the wind to a comrade exchanged commands, disoriented and panic stricken. Amongst the sentenced, hanging on the crosses filling the hill top cries would have been heard – vile cries and curses, and frightened pleas – filling the void.
Such a void was reminiscent not only of the plague Moses brought to Pharaoh but of the primordial darkness from before the world was made and light shone and life began.
Exodus 10: 21 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven so that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness that can be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was dense darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 People could not see one another, and for three days they could not move from where they were; but all the Israelites had light where they lived.
In such a primordial darkness the Justice of Pharaohs and Kings, Caesars and Potentates crumbles. Power and force is immobile.
And Jesus was in the very midst of this darkness of which Luke wrote. We are familiar with Moses and the story of his being raised up to deliver Israel from the heavy yoke of injustice and slavery. On Golgotha we see the new Moses lifted up and delivering humanity from the burden of injustice and slavery, of brokenness and exploitation. In Jesus we see Moses writ large. In Jesus we the Justice of God expressed in deliverance beyond the Exodus story we know so well.
Isaiah 61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion – to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. 4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.
Jesus told John the Baptist’s disciples to return to his prison cell and tell him what they saw and heard, thereby answering John’s query whether Jesus was the Messiah or had John been mistaken. What came as good news to a prisoner in Herod’s jail cell dark as it may have been, shouts the evangel all of creation awaits in the darkness on this Jerusalem height. Never would have John seen such fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy as was seen that held all of creation wrapt in darkness such as this.
And precisely in that darkness a voice was heard. A voice penetrating the darkness of mind and heart of all sorts and conditions that were there, had they but eyes to see it and ears to hear.
“Into your hands, I commend my spirit.”
Such was Luke’s story. It wasn’t Marks’ story. John may have only become familiar with it at some later date. Matthew made no comment as he told his story. Centurions may have missed it entirely and later, as they shared their stories over a mug of wine or beer they would have regaled each other and perhaps failed to mention the darkness. On the Temple Mount bleating lambs continued to be slaughtered as the Passover activity took on the air of an abattoir. Busyness and business kept active men from noticing any perceptible darkness.
What Luke tells us in his story telling is that the tenth plague of Egypt – the death of the First Born Son – was the final act of Deliverance and the Justice of God that now flowed like a deep aquifer – a stream mingled with the blood not of Isaac nor any longer of a Ram caught in a thicket but of the Promised One of God.
2011 Come and Follow Me