Good Friday – John 19:1-37

| March 28, 2013 | 0 Comments More

The Crucifixion - Matthias Grünewald - Wikipedia entry on Isenheim AltarpieceJohn 19:1-37

Though the Morning Prayer lesson for this morning is John 18, I’ve chosen to meditate on John 19 instead, which is the Proper lesson for the Good Friday service.

“Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?’

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,

Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,

‘Let us break their bonds in pieces and cast away their cords from us’” (Psalm 2:1-3.)

Satan had been plotting His revenge for three years.  He had gotten quite used to ruling the earth.  His initial success in the Garden Campaign millennia ago had proved so utterly successful that he had scarcely believed it himself.  Bracing himself for some divine onslaught, he was surprised to see how easy and complete his victory seemed to be.  His battle plan had been carried out to perfection and every one of his objectives accomplished.

  1. “Seduce the woman by turning God’s commandment into a question.” Check.
  2. “Use the man’s created protecting instinct and the magnetic attraction of marriage to make the man follow the woman into temptation.”  Check.
  3. “Bring in sin and death through this temptation.”  Check.
  4. “Sit back and let God do the rest.  He will be forced, by His own character to judge them for disobeying.  He will have to keep His promise to kill them and banish them from His presence.”  Check.

He had discovered the weakness in the Heavenly Tyrant: he has to be true to who he is and true to his word.

Satan suspected that the Heavenly Tyrant planned another counter-offensive, but in the beginning all Satan could see that he had to worry about was one vague, minor promise that Satan would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman and that the seed of the woman would bruise his head.  It worried Satan a little that this promise of the Heavenly Tyrant’s was a little vague and poetic, for Satan had never been very good at poetry, and the Heavenly Tyrant usually spoke so plainly.  He had commissioned his scholars to look at it, and some were worried that “bruise” might mean more than just a surface wound, but the consensus was that the worst-case scenario was that the war would continue perhaps indefinitely.  Satan could live with that, though he hoped for complete victory.

In fact, Satan was a great scholar of the Jewish scriptures, and he had teams constantly working on figuring out God’s curious riddles.  (Much later, after today’s story, in the 19th century, he came up with the idea of planting doubt in the minds of the Heavenly Tyrant’s subjects by offering pseudo-scientific theories “proving” the Heavenly Tyrant’s word could not be trusted.)  So far, they had pieced together a theory that the Heavenly Tyrant would make one final effort at defeating Satan.  They were pretty sure it had something to do with the greatest prophet the Heavenly Tyrant would ever send, as well as with the greatest earthly king he would send.  But it was all pretty vague, especially the parts about this anointed one somehow suffering.  The Satanic Scripture Scholars (S.S.S.) all agreed that there would be heavy casualties on both sides but that this anointed one would be killed in the end.

One day, news came to Satan that this mysterious anointed one had finally been born and that he was, indeed, a man, the seed of the woman.  Long ago, Satan had installed some of his earthly allies in places of power in Israel, since that seemed a likely place for the anointed one to first appear.  By a stroke of luck, he discovered that the anointed one had been born in Bethlehem, and he sent Herod to kill him and to kill any likely boy who fit the description of age and geography.

But Herod had bungled the job, and Satan vowed to do the job Himself next time.

He had to wait almost 30 years, but finally, the time came.  When the anointed one had been born, Satan knew it would be easier to kill him when still a baby, and so he tried.  Now he waited for another time of strategic importance and weakness.  He found it when Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Prophet: this may have been the moment of anointing.  Satan saw him go into the wilderness to fast and pray, and he waited.  He waited until there was evidence that the time of fasting in the wilderness would end.  And he pounced, at the moment of greatest weakness and hunger.

Satan wouldn’t talk about the encounter with the anointed one afterwards and ordered that any mention of the incident in any volume of the Hellish Histories was strictly forbidden.  But already, he was working on a plan, and he had many friends on earth in strategic places.  He had even cultivated a spy among Jesus’ closest friends and used him to spring the trap.

Three years later, after the defeat that Satan would not even permit himself to mention, all had been made ready.  Though it took some doing, he managed to get the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Jews and the Romans, to work together on this case.  Everything was going according to plan.  Right at the moment when the anointed one was celebrating the holiest feast, right when he was having the deepest fellowship with his friends, Satan himself entered into one of them.  How delicious to be able to do it at precisely this time!

He had even solved the mystery of suffering – the son of the Heavenly Tyrant would suffer in every conceivable way before he died.  He suffered betrayal by one of his closest friends that he himself had chosen; the rest of the friends ran away scared, and the one he called the Rock had crumbled and denied him; Satan clapped and roared with infernal laughter to see the anointed one be mocked by a bunch of dumb soldiers; and his own people, the Jews, rejected him.  All of the prophecies, as far as Satan could see, had been fulfilled, even down to some obscure details, and Satan felt even more reassured.

He thought about letting the scourger do Jesus in with a few extra strokes, but controlled himself and allowed the “King of the Jews” to suffer the most excruciating and ignoble death yet invented: crucifixion.

Still half-expecting some deus ex machina to come down and deliver the anointed one at the last minute, Satan watched as Jesus cried out that the Heavenly Tyrant had abandoned him.  Satan rose to his feet when Jesus cried “It is finished.”  And when he died, Pandemonium broke out in Hell.

In his being drunk with victory, even the nagging question of the prophecy of the seed and his own head was forgotten by Satan.  And the Satanic Scripture Scholars were all too dense or darkened or drunk to have discovered that the place where Jesus was crucified was called Golgotha or Calvary, both of which mean “The Place of the Skull.”

And death and decay held illimitable dominion over all.

“He who sits in the heavens shall laugh;

the Lord shall hold them in derision.

Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,

and distress them in His deep displeasure:

“Yet I have set My King

on My holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:4-6.)

Prayer:  Almighty God, we beseech thee graciously to behold this thy family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was contented to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Point for Meditation: 

1.  Meditate on the love of Jesus in giving up Himself for you.  Every mocking and every scorn, every humiliation and every torment, was suffered for you.

2.  Meditate on what your response should be to the God who gave His life for you. 

Resolution:  I resolve to lament my sins and confess them all today, remembering that for these sins, the Son of God died. 

© 2013 Fr. Charles Erlandson

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