Posted by: morgan1965 | April 21, 2011

Good Friday: The Cross of Christ

The cross of Jesus Christ was at the center of the drama that unfolded on Good Friday. Jesus, of course, was crucified on a cross, and buried in a borrowed tomb on Good Friday. His death on the cross was preceded by his experience with his disciples on Maundy Thursday when he broke bread with them and personally washed their feet. Jesus’ death on the cross was followed by his resurrection just three days later on Easter Sunday.

The cross of Jesus is at the center of the Christian faith. It is at the cross that we meet Jesus.

Let us take a brief look at the meaning of the cross as manifested in the hymnody of the United Methodist Church. The Afro-American spiritual, “Were You There” [United Methodist Hymnal, #288] confronts us with the reality of the cross: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” This spiritual draws us into the Holy Week drama when Jesus was nailed to the cross, when he was pierced in his side, when the sun refused to shine and when he was laid in the tomb. Consideration of this drama can only cause one to “tremble.”

The above scene is relived as we observe Good Friday each year. It is so easy to drift away from Jesus and his passion experience. Little wonder, then, that Fanny Crosby would write the hymn, “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” [#301]. Crosby says:

“Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.

“In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.”

Crosby believes that one should live the Christian life near the cross – watching, waiting, hoping and trusting. This practice provides a meaningful Christian lifestyle.

What then shall we do? Thomas Shepherd provides a firm response in his hymn, “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone” [#424]. Consider the import of the third verse: “The consecrated cross I’ll bear till death shall set me free; and then go home my crown to wear, for there’s a crown for me.” As pilgrim disciples, we are called to bear the cross with Jesus. Jesus cannot bear the cross alone. He needs his pilgrim disciples to be his partners in bearing the cross.

What shall we do? Let us lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim till all the world adore his sacred name” [“Lift High the Cross” by G. W. Kitchin, #159].

Dear God, we thank you for the opportunity to remember the events of Good Friday. Help us to overcome our fear of the cross. Foster in our hearts and minds a deeper understanding of your wisdom that is lodged in the cross of Jesus. Plant in us a conviction so bold that we would dare to glory in the cross of Christ. Amen

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