Good Friday 2018

"What I have written, I have written." It was Pilate's last word. He had written the notice himself and fixed it to the cross; "Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews." For St Paul, the Cross was the answer to all his questions. Nothing else was needed: he could glory in the Cross of his Lord and Saviour, accepting all manner of suffering and hardship in the joy and confidence of being reconciled to God in Christ Jesus. The Cross is the work of the Father, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son. It is the work of the Son, who did not cling to equality with God but humbled himself, accepting death on a cross. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, in whom the Son offers himself to the Father and who is poured out by the Son, when "bowing his head, he gave up the spirit." In the Cross, we come to know the love of God, which surpasses all understanding.

Adam fell at a tree, yet by a tree he was saved. Eve was seduced at a tree, yet through a tree the bride was restored to her spouse. At a tree Satan defeated Adam: on a tree Jesus destroyed the works of the devil. At a tree God cursed man and through a tree that curse gave way to blessing. God exiled Adam from the tree of life: on a tree the New Adam endured exile that we might inherit the earth and know the joys of heaven. The Cross is the tree of knowledge, the tree of judgement and the tree of life. The Cross is the staff of Moses that divides the waters and leads us dry-shod through the sea of life. The Cross is the wood thrown into the bitter waters of Marah to make them sweet and life-giving. The Cross is the standard on which Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness and on which Jesus is now lifted up to draw all people to himself.

The Cross is planted on Calvary, and Golgotha is the new Eden. It is greater than Sinai, for the New Covenant is sealed in the Blood of Christ. On Calvary God reveals his Glory and speaks his final Word. It is greater than Mount Zion, the mountain of the Great King. It is the true Tabor, for the Transfiguration prefigured this moment when Christ is glorified and in him God is glorified. Calvary is the new Carmel, where the fire of God falls from heaven to consume with its living flame the altar of the new Israel of God, the Church, the Body of Christ made up of living stones. The Cross is the new ladder of Jacob, by which we climb to heaven, while Jesus is the new Bethel, the house of God, in which there are many mansions, where we shall live forever.

The Cross lies at the heart, at the crossroads of history, "the twisted knot at the centre of reality", to which all previous history leads and from which all subsequent history flows. The Cross reveals the ultimate meaning of life, where the love of God embraces the whole universe and redeems it in the sacrifice of Christ, our High Priest, who takes into his very being our sufferings and our sins, the tragedy of our fallen nature. The Letter to the Hebrews says, "Although he was Son, he learnt to obey through suffering, but having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of eternal salvation." The Bible contained in a single verse.

Pilate was a weak but stubborn man. "What I have written, I have written." St Paul was a stubborn man, calling all things rubbish when compared to knowing Christ crucified, for the Jews a stumbling block, for the Gentiles madness, but for those who believe the very wisdom and salvation of God. Let us be stubborn in our faith. We worship you, Christ, and we bless you, by your Cross you have redeemed the world.