GOOD FRIDAY (4/2/21)

Hi, I’m Andrew Gates, one of the pastors at Riverside, and part of the new
Unnamed Home Group. I love goofing off with my family, drinking coffee,
watching music, movies, tv, NBA basketball, Chicago professional sports
teams, and connecting with all kinds of people.

  • Please pause and slowly read today’s passage, Matthew 27:32-44.

The events of Good Friday are at the center of our faith, and in fact, Good
Friday’s primary symbol, the cross, is the literal and figurative central
focus of most of Christian worship spaces. And of course it is—the cross
is the sign of our salvation, where God’s upside-down Kingdom is on full
display for all the world to see and where Jesus’ perfect obedience and
submission takes away the sin of the world.

I wonder if in celebrating the victory of the cross, we sometimes forget
or downplay how downright disturbing the act of Jesus’ crucifixion
was—the bitter wine, the crass dividing of Jesus’ clothes while he hangs
before them, the relentless insults and mockery from the rebels, chief
priests, teachers, and elders? It is a tragedy for Jesus’ followers to lose the
connection between Christ’s suffering and people who continue to suffer
in much the same way. As theologian James Cone writes: “The cross is the
great symbol of the Christian narrative of salvation. Unfortunately, during
the course of 2,000 years of Christian history, this symbol of salvation has
been detached from any reference to the ongoing suffering and oppression
of human beings…The cross has been transformed into a harmless, non-offensive ornament that Christians wear around their necks.”

  • Jesus is heckled and told multiple times to “come down from the cross” to prove he is the Son of God. How is remaining on the cross a greater testimony to his identity than coming down from the cross would have been?
  • Who endures “ongoing suffering and oppression” today, and how might the cross, in a unique way, give them hope?