Matthew Ch 27 vs 45 tells us “ From noon on darkness came over the land”…. And with darkness is an implied silence…
No one shouting hosana hosana…. They’d gone home..
No one shouting Crucify crucify… they’d gone home, either disillusioned, or with smug satisfaction or just because darkness veiled their sight
And around the silhouetted cross there stand a few… soldiers, John, Women… and you…
And its quiet and it’s dark and its uncertain.
And three man hang there sorrowing sighing bleeding dying…
And you wait and you wonder…
You’ve seen so much, you’ve hoped so much and now, it is dark and it feels lonely, forsaken… My God My God why have you forsaken Me!
What brought you here? Why do you linger?
I thirst… I thirst for the living God.
God has brought you on a journey through many a wilderness and many each step drawing you closer.
And so here you stand at the foot of the cross and you wait and you watch… and God is calling he’s called you from the crowd from the doubt and the fear he’s called you to the cross. And He is calling still – Forgive them Father,
it is you that receive forgiveness from the cross..
But were three crosses on Calvary that day, and only one of them saved you and it is that cross that calls to you know.
There were 3 crosses to show us the way that God draws us deeper and deeper into relationship with him. The 3 crosses are a pathway to living in Christ and with Christ and through Christ.
When St Paul says I have ben crucified with Christ he does not mean alongside. We must not strive to be like the Criminal who was told, today you will be with me in paradise – our faith in God isn’t meant to just save us – it is meant to bring us into relationship with God through JESUS Christ.
Receiving eternal life is the beginning of salvation and its final outcome but we are called to a life of service here and now, the cross of Jesus the centre of the story is where we must strive to be.
And so we stand in the dark of our ignorance and the disquiet of our discontent and we watch and we wait, and the Christ of the cross calls out to us, with each breath He breathes life for us.
The central cross of Christ is the one that we must seek. Giving of ourselves completely to God, not just clinging to the promise of a life hereafter, but giving of ourselves for this world;
offering ourselves as a sacrifice to be used by God in this world so that others too may take the journey that we see unfolding for us on Calvary.
Today we have journeyed with Jesus from his condemnation, from receiving our cross – that cross was made for Barrabbas and it was made for us for the wages of sin is death,
But Jesus has declared us free and he though he is declared innocent by Pilot who said – “I find no fault with this man”, Jesus carries those sins he carries the shame he carries the instrument of death, and like Simon of Cyrene we have carried it too… and now here we stand in silence, and we watch and we wait..
we have seen Jesus fall reminding us that we will fail along the way, and we have watched him persevere to this place where we watch and we wait..
When we accept the cross alongside Jesus we still make demands for our own well being, save us – If you were really God, the we would not have this problem.. when we accept the cross alongside Jesus then we still seek only our own salvation we seek the promise of our own well being..
But when we accept the cross with Jesus we see the world differently.. we see a world that needs forgiveness, a world that need hope a world that need God.
We have seen Jesus weep for the world that will reject him, John 3 :16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that who ever believes in him shall not perish but receive eternal life. But vs 19 says – and this is the judgement that the light has come into the world and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeps were evil.
The Jewish Officials, the Roman soldiers the crowds shouting crucify had all displayed that evil that persists to this day.
As we journey deeper and deeper we are left with three crosses on a hill side and we are being called through the journey to the cross through our own conversation on the cross to an intimate and personal experience of Jesus on the cross.
we are being crucified with Christ – where we first desire God to make the world different, form the darkness can you hear your own voice cry out against God….
Alongside Jesus we make demands, alongside Jesus we seek salvation for ourselves, and so we come closer and we are crucified with Christ alongside him in a state of repentance from where we understand our sinfulness and Christ’s holiness . from where we understand and receive the offer of eternal life.
And so we wait in the darkness and we hear the sigh and we feel the pain and God is calling us onward and inward to the
central cross of Jesus where God offers us union with Christ with his death and his resurrection.
When we truly unite ourselves in Christ and give ourselves to this cross, we feel the pain of the world. We understand the plight of others and we empathise with them.
We intercede for the forgiveness of others and we desire only God.
When we take our place with Jesus and through Him and In Him and with Him
live to God’s glory – then we will truly receive the Eternal crown of Glory, then we truly receive life. Not just the promise of life but a know life a resurrected life, a life of meaning now.
And so we wait and we wonder and God is calling , calling us to lay down our lives and trust completely in him…
And so we journey deeper and we are buried with Christ and we overcome the evil one and we are set free to rise in Victory…. But we will make that journey of resurrection on Sunday… for now let us just rest completely in God, let us welcome this moment
If we do not accept the tomb we cannot accept the resurrection. If we cannot accept surrender, then we cannot live in obedience.
God calls us to this point of surrender.
Where we must let go of our desire for power and control
Where we must let go of our desire for affection, esteem, approval and pleasure
Where we must Let go of your desire for survival and security
Where we must Let go of your desire to change any situation, condition, person or yourself.
We have been truly crucified with Christ and we no longer live…
Do you want to receive resurrection?
Do you want a life in Christ?
Then you have to your life, in the tomb of conversion, the tomb of transformation .
in laying down our lives Jesus is resurrected in us and we in him
God is calling to you in the darkness and bringing you light and hope and joy and peace!
May it be yours this day for that its what Christ won for you on Calvary.
Fr. Andrew Manning