In today’s first reading, we have the last of the four servant songs which we have been reading this week. They remind us that our Lord’s passion, his suffering and death heart clearly foretold in Scripture. So much of the action of this week has taken place so that Scripture may be fulfilled. What God told the people of Israel through his prophets comes about and the end of his son’s life. It shows us in the clearest possible way that what we see in the prophetic descriptions is true.
If the truth be told, the suffering, the rejection, torture, and death of our Lord and saviour, Jesus Christ, is beyond our understanding. It is a mystery, the mystery of God’s love: an act of loving service, the power of silent love overcoming a world of political scheming, deception, self-interest and sin. But God’s own son should come from heaven and die to save a sinner like you or me is extraordinary. We are shown today in the clearest possible terms how God loves us: that there is no length to which he will not go to save us, to embrace his prodigal children. The chief priests and elders think that they’re ridding themselves of an heretic, a potential troublemaker, a fool who claims to be the son of God and King of Israel. When Pilate asks “What is Truth?” he does not understand that the source of all truth, the word of God incarnate is stood in front of him. After scourging him the soldiers put a purple robe around our Lord, crown him with thorns, and give him a reed for a sceptre. They think they’re being funny, they’re having a laugh, but this is God showing the world what true kingship is: it is not pomp, or power, the ability to have one’s own way, but the Silent Way of suffering love. It shows us what God’s glory is really like: it turns our human values on their head and inaugurates a new age, according to new values, restoring a relationship broken by human sin.
In being raised upon the cross, our Lord is not dying the death of a common criminal, but rather reigning in glory. His hands and feet and side are pierced, as wounds of love, to pour out God’s healing life upon the world. In his obedience to the father’s will, he puts to an end the disobedience of humanity’s first parent. Christ is a willing victim, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, the Silent lamb led to his slaughter, the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep that have gone astray.
Death and hell, the reward of sin, have no power over us, for in dying, and being laid in a stranger’s tomb, Christ will go down to Hell, to break down its doors, to lead souls to heaven, to alter the nature of the afterlife, once and for all. Just when the devil thinks he’s won, then in his weakness and in his silence Christ overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil. The burden of sin which separates humanity from God is carried on the wood of the cross. On the way to Calvary our Lord falls three times such is the way, such as the burden, so we too as Christians, despite being reconciled to God by the cross, will fall on our road too. We will continue to sin, but also to ask God for his love and mercy. But those arms which were opened on the cross will continue to embrace the world with God’s love. We don’t deserve it, but it is there to help us become the people God wants us to be: to be strengthened, fed, healed, and restored by him, to die to sin and be raised to new life, and to share that life and love with others, that the world might believe and be saved through him. Christ pays the debt which we cannot reconcile humanity to his loving and merciful Father. He shows us the meaning of true love: that we might live it out in our lives, forgiving one another, bearing our own cross, and living lives of love for love of him who died for love of us.
We should glory in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, for he is our salvation, our life, and our resurrection, through him we are saved and made free.