A Lament for Good Friday

“While they were eating he said, ‘Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.’ They were very sad and began to say to him, one after the other, ‘Is it I?’ Jesus said, ‘One who has dipped his hand in the bowl with me will betray me.’ ”

Matthew 26:21-23

Anyone who commits to taking the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus seriously must spend time in unsparing self-examination on Good Friday. Having observed the Last Supper, we awakened this day of Christ’s crucifixion to somber reflection. During the Last Supper, Christ pointedly spoke about his betrayal. Each of the 12 asked the same question, “Am I the one?” Jesus didn’t answer them individually. He said simply that one who has dipped their hand in the bowl with me will betray me.

Across the years we have tried to offload culpability and blame upon Judas of the Sicarii and use him as scapegoat. However, if we are honest with ourselves and each other, we must confess that we, too, have committed acts of betrayal. We have shared in the Last Supper – we have taken the bread and wine and dipped our hand in the bowl. Jesus knew then and knows now. It is not simply “Am I the one?” It is everyone. We have not simply put our hand in the bowl; we are sadly much more deeply involved.

I don’t write this to make any who suffer from self-loathing or depression feel even more helpless and hopeless. Rather this is an invitation to hope.

To claim the gift of forgiveness, we have to honestly address our shortcomings. We may not have committed the spectacular act of betrayal that Judas did. We may not have committed the public act of denial that Peter did. Yet we all betray and deny Jesus in some way. We do it when we have a scarcity mentality instead of an abundance mentality. We do it when we fall into fear instead of living in faith. We do it when we trust more in our own ability than in God’s power. We do it when we judge other people, when we trample on the environment and creation, and when we have resentful attitudes.

I wonder if Jesus would really have liked to answer their question, “Is it I?” with a simple “Duh.” Twelve times – Duh, Duh, Duh, Duh.

On this Good Friday we strive to achieve holiness. Let us confess freely that even the best among us still have at least residual resistance to the Grace and Will of God. I invite you to give over to God all error in action and untoward impulse in thought. May we empty our hearts and minds of regret and remorse so that the sacrificial love displayed upon the cross can pour in to the resulting emptiness.

May we emerge out of the darkness of these days.

Bruce Stanley

2 comment on “A Lament for Good Friday

  1. Dr. Sherrill G. Stevens Reply

    Thank you, Bruce Stanley, for a thoughtful and inspiring “lament” to help us observe faithfully the meaning of “sinful failing” and to prepare hopefully for the celebration of “our” victory in Jesus’ living presence and gracious forgiveness.

  2. Mara Hamme Reply

    Marvelous post about how all of us falter at meeting God’s expectations on many occasions. Having a mentality of abundance versus scarcity is important, especially during these times. I loved the Last Supper description.

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