Here are items from today’s Good Friday service.
A. We sang the song, “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted.” One of the stanzas said:
You who think of sin but lightly nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed; see who bears the awful load;
It’s the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.
This reminded me of something I read last night. I was going through Jonathan Edwards’s History of the Work of Redemption, and Edwards was talking about how arrogant it is for people to try to be their own saviors: to think that their mere religious activities can earn them God’s favor. It took the very death of the Son of God to save us, so how can the thought even enter our minds that our own paltry “goodness” can save us? If our good works can save us, why did Christ even go to the effort of coming to earth, living a righteous life, and dying for our sins? That is a good point. At the same time, I find myself thinking: “I hope God notices my church attendance, or my praying, or my Bible reading.” It is not that I think those things by themselves are meritorious. I just hope that God recognizes and respects them as attempts to seek him.
B. In John 19:25-27, Jesus instructs the beloved disciple to take care of Jesus’s mother, Mary. The pastor read: “Lord Jesus, while You suffered the agony of the cross, You remembered, in love, Your sorrowing mother. With that same love and pity, bless all who love others, especially those whose hearts are torn by loss or burdened with worry. In Your mercy, gather all within the peace of Your cross, so that all may love each other as they love you.”
Jesus on the cross took care of his sorrowful mother. Good Friday should not just be about how we are sinful, but it is also about how Jesus is good. That passage also stood out to me because my own extended family is dealing with looming loss.
C. The liturgy said: “Lord God, may we learn by Christ’s example to love others as we love ourselves; forgiving the worst we find in others and in ourselves; rejoicing in the best we know of others and ourselves.”
Love the good in ourselves and others? But are we not all sinners? I suppose that it can be humbling to realize that we are all sinners in need of forgiveness. How can I look down on somebody else, when I myself am flawed? But I think that part of appreciating people is acknowledging the good that they do, or at least try to do.