Friday, 19 April 2019

The Window and the Mirror: A Good Friday Meditation

Windows and mirrors have something in common, they both enable us to see things that ordinarily would remain hidden to us.

We can’t see through walls. Windows enable us to see beyond our field of view into a space which would otherwise have remained invisible to us. Imagine living in a house with no windows. Likewise, God’s heart is hidden from us, but the cross of Jesus Christ is a window onto God’s heart and mind. They are on full display for all to see.

Also, we can’t see what we really look like. Mirrors enable us to see things about ourselves that would otherwise remain invisible to us. Imagine if you had never seen your own face. What idea would you have about yourself? The cross of Jesus Christ holds up a mirror to humanity showing us what we’re really like.

Jesus says it another way in John 3:19-20 “Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed."

Jesus is our window onto God’s life, but he is also a mirror held up to ours and whether it’s the passive faithlessness of the disciples deserting Jesus or the active faithlessness of the Jewish and Roman authorities sentencing him to death, all of us, by nature, are lovers of darkness. Isaiah said it well (53:6): “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Our readings from Mark’s gospel help us to see this window/mirror contrast up close. The trauma of the crucifixion reveals the simple, profound and beautiful truth of all Jesus was, and at the same time it revealed how deceived, dark and dysfunctional we are.
  • Where we, like Peter, James and John, were disobedient and prayerless, Jesus wrestled in prayer on our behalf saying: “Not my will, but yours be done.”
  • Where we, like the disciples, refused to stand with Jesus, he stood with us, choosing out of love to bear our disgrace rather than leave us to face the wrath of God as the appropriate consequence of our actions.
  • Where we, like the guilty disciples, fled, because we didn’t want to die, the innocent Jesus offered himself up to die in our place.
  • Where we, like Peter, denied all knowledge of the truth before a low status servant girl, Jesus faithfully confessed the truth before the highest spiritual and political authorities in the world of that time.
  • Where we, like the rulers and authorities of this world, postured before Jesus challenging his seemingly ridiculous claim to be King and Messiah, Jesus silently rested in the confidence that who he was and what he had come to do had been given to him by God the Father and prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures.
  • Where we, like the common people, reviled Jesus because he didn’t do the miracles we hoped to see, Jesus performs the miracle of bearing all our sin and turning the other cheek to their mockery, saying “Father forgive them, they don’t realise what they are doing."
Perhaps the place where this window/mirror contrast is most obvious is when Pilate presents Jesus and Barabbas before the people and asks them to vote for who should be released. Consider what it is he offers them at the Passover festival:
  • Barabbas, is a zealot: a nationalistic, religious freedom-fighter. He will stop at nothing to see his homeland of Judah – the “Kingdom of God”, established in his the pattern of his revolutionary political and religious ideology, free from Roman occupation and with a fully Jewish king on the throne. He has tried to do this by violent force and as a result, he is on trial for murder.
  • Jesus is an itinerant preacher and miracle worker, also looking to establish the kingdom of God, but not by violently kicking out the Romans and re-establishing a pure-bred race, rather, by obedience to his Heavenly Father. It is for his obedience to his Father that he ends up on trial before the people.
  • Matthew tells us in his gospel (27:16-17) that Barabbas’ full name was Jesus Barabbas.
  • The name Jesus means “salvation.” The name Barabbas means “son of the father.”
  • So Pilate presents the people with two alternative “Salvations,” two “Sons of the Father.”
  • Jesus Barabbas is mirror to us of our own hearts. He is a treacherous and estranged rebel son made in the image of Adam his spiritual father. Adam, in Genesis 1, was the first “son of the Father.” Barabbas, like Adam, and like us wanted to seize God’s kingdom and establish it on his own terms. The consequence of that action was death for all.
  • Jesus Christ is the true and better Barabbas, the true and obedient son of the Father, who did not seize his Father’s kingdom or try to refashion it in his own image, but by faithful obedience he has established it according to his father’s will, meaning life can now be offered to all.
The crowd, stirred up by the religious authorities, chose to side with the one who is like them – the rebel son of the father, condemning the innocent son of the father to death.

Yet here is a simple but profound picture of the gospel. For as we look in this mirror we remember that we, like Barabbas, were the guilty ones who deserved death, but we go free.

We also look through this window and see how, in love for God and love for us, Jesus suffered on our behalf so that our declaration of acquittal and freedom might not come, like it did for Barabbas, through the false decree of a corrupt legal system, but by the true decree of the eternal, righteous God.

Praise God that when we were at our absolute worst: proud, arrogant, ignorant, self-deceived, mad, rebellious and wicked, to name but a few, God used all our evil actions to work something breathtakingly beautiful and enabling us to born again of the Spirit and to return to him as dearly beloved adopted sons and daughters.

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