We Cannot Measure
How You Heal...
Good Friday - April 3, 2015
12 noon - 3:00 p.m.
Christ Church (Parish) Church, Fredericton, N.B.
The Reverend Canon Jim Irvine,
The passage of time subtly washed over Golgotha. Shadows did not trace the advancement of the sun across the heavens. Shadows cast by the referred light of a Passover Moon hardly moved at all. As time is measured – either by the flowing grains of sand in an hour glass, or the angular lengths that trace the course on a sun dial – the metrics of the measurement of time were ethereal in the darkness that cloaked the Heights of Golgotha. Time passed inexorably and imperceptibly. Minutes seemed hours and hours seemed an eternity.
Beginnings as well as endings were all but erased. All that seemed to be was the moment at hand and in that Moment the hand that penned the Letter to the Hebrews observed that it is clear that Jesus did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham.
Placed alongside the passage from Luke recording the Presentation of the infant in the Temple, we begin to see that the Moment of Time spans a lifetime. In that Moment endings are perceived in beginnings and beginnings are perceived in endings.
The Journey had begun in the Temple in the arms of his Mother as Joseph presented two pigeons to the priest in obedience to the Law. They encountered an elderly man in the Temple whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, and looked forward to the Promise of Israel. We are told that the Holy Spirit rested on him.
It had been revealed to Simon by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Simeon took the child in his arms and praised God, saying, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed – and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
There was also a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. A widow, she never left the Temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. She, too, began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
Their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover meant that Jesus was no stranger to the Temple Mount. We’re reminded of an incident when he was twelve years of age. Jesus stayed on in Jerusalem following the Feast and his parents, thinking that he was with relatives and friends, did not miss him for a full day. Turning back in search of the boy, they found him three days later in the Temple courts. He was sitting among the teachers and he was asking them questions.
Bright, the teachers appreciated Jesus’ understanding and the questions he asked as well as the answers he gave. He was at home, as he explained to his distraught parents. While he didn’t understand their worry – what adolescent would – he did have a sense of what he was about, and felt wholly comfortable with that. “I must be about my Father’s business,” certainly they could understand that! Mary’s reprimand elicited only curiosity on the part of the boy who continued to grow in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and men.
The course had been set and his beginning gradually developed into what would become his ending. His ending was seen clearly by Simeon and the Prophetess Anna as well. They could see further than could be measured by passersby who saw only a couple from Nazareth carrying their first-born son to the Temple and perhaps they noticed a coin that Joseph clutched in his hand – a coin that would purchase two pigeons.
And what did they see?
Jesus sent disciples back to John the Baptist in Herod’s jail with this answer… “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
John the Baptist knew the metrics of Redemption. Baptizing for the remission of brokenness enabled him to see the effects of a salve applied to a life oppressed beyond measure. John was acquainted with the restorative nature of forgiveness. There is a Balm in Gilead and the witness of his disciples assured him of that. And this Balm was making the wounded whole. In Gilead sin-sick souls were being healed.
The Messianic hope of Isaiah is realized in Jesus. Simeon saw it and thanked God for it. Anna saw it too, and praised God for it. What they hoped for was realized in a ministry begun and lived out. That life found a path ascending a Height where men were blind and others too lame to walk; where leprosy made men outcasts and deafness reflects condemnation.
Jesus found himself on a Cross where in the company of dead men he too died. He died with them. He died for them. The measure of his healing is that he died not for their sin but for their forgiveness.
2011 Come and Follow Me
2014 The Folly of God