Grace and peace to you, my sisters and brothers in Christ.
On this most holy day, we contemplate our Lord Jesus’ willing suffering and death. The radical nature of his love is found in more than his last hours. We see it from the very beginning. From creation and incarnation, Jesus has been working God’s love for all creation.
Today, we close our worship with a combined reading of Jesus’ birth and Jesus’ death. Together, these accounts give space for us to wonder about Jesus’ purpose. Why did Jesus come into the world and why did he die?
He did it all for love- for you, for me, for all people, for the whole creation. Jesus was willing to leave behind the glory and power of being God to be born a helpless infant. Jesus was willing to face ridicule to show the welcome of God to all people. Jesus was willing to die to declare that there is nowhere God is absent- God is with you, even in the midst of suffering, even in the finality of death.
Jesus loves even when his love is met with rejection. Many of our favorite Good Friday hymns focus on our part in rejecting Jesus. We contemplate our own sin, our choosing to make ourselves into gods rather than turn towards God in worship. Jesus’ closest disciples betray and abandon him. Knowing us, knowing them, still, Jesus continues on in his path of love. Jesus moves towards us in love, traveling into suffering, even as we move away from him.
Jesus enters this world, Jesus enters suffering and death, so that he can transform it. Jesus is born into this world to heal it. Jesus comes to us in the midst of our struggle so that he can pull us out of it. This may be Friday, but we know Sunday’s coming. Jesus will break free of death. Jesus will bring us all into healing and life.
Jesus has come to accomplish love- to prove that love wins, so that our hearts might be turned towards love and the God who loves us. Just as a marathon runner pushes through those last miles in order to reach the finish line, Jesus pushes through the suffering that kills him, the rejection that we throw up, in order to come to us, wherever we are, in whatever hurt we face, to show us love that is unconditional and unending. Jesus is victorious in love on the cross. There, the power of his love was tested and proven.
Jesus loves you, no matter what. No matter what you’ve done or haven’t done, no matter the price it costs for him to love. Jesus love you, no matter what. He’s gone to hell and back just so that you can hear those words and know they are for you. Jesus loves you. You’re why he came, and died, and rose. This is all for you.
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