Good Friday: Jesus Dies on the Cross

During Lent, ESN writer and InterVarsity graduate/faculty staff member Jamie Noyd has generously shared her reflections. She invited us to meditate with her on six of the stations of the cross on which Christians have reflected over the centuries. See the previous posts at these links: Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane; Jesus, Betrayed by Judas, Is Arrested; Jesus is Judged by PilateJesus is Helped by Simon the Cyrenian to Carry the Cross; and Jesus Speaks to His Mother and the Disciple. On this Good Friday, Jamie shares the last reflection of the series. 

Luke 23:44-46

By this time it was noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.

Something is different. You had expected to hang around Golgotha for most of the day as Jesus endured a slow, painful death. Then, as soon as you settle in for the long hours ahead, the sky grows black. Then Jesus yells out and lets go of life. Not in weak despair, but crying in trust to his Father. A wall has been broken. Death doesn’t seem to be the victor at this cross, though Jesus’ body is lifeless.

He did not grasp to hold life together. Jesus left any despair back in the garden where we began. Later you hear that the temple veil had been torn in two at the time of his death. Something is indeed different. Your assumptions about life and death have been upended and you don’t know why.

Sitting in a Good Friday service at the cathedral, I’m trying to hold it together. Rejected in a relationship. Uncertain about my job. Lost. If I can just hold on and put back together what is ripped apart all will be okay. I bargain with God to let everything return to the way it was. Years later I’m back at the cathedral, bargaining about my parents’ health. Not merely praying for their healing from cancer, but also begging that my life would stay together so that I can remain in my comfortable life.

Yet, my selfish cries are not what I need. I need to be torn. To give up. To have the veil torn inside of me so that I can be open to God.

How many times do we use all of our energy holding together the dying pieces of our lives? The campus is full of people grasping an image for fear that without it they will be nothing: scholars, athletes, activists, performers. What if after all their work they don’t receive a degree or the tenure track position they’ve spent the last three years working on? Another way is unfathomable so they do everything they can to pull the pieces together even though the end is inevitable.

At times, giving up is what we need to do. Accept the tears in our lives so that we can gain life.

In the twelfth chapter of John’s gospel we struggle to really hear Jesus’ teaching: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” So often we want to stay in the kernel that we know.

However, there is peace in giving up that which is dying in our lives. In the stillness of Jesus’ death, even in the uncertainty, a new peace was invading the world. A peace in which we don’t have to hold on to ephemeral hopes, but can entrust our lives to our steadfast and faithful Father. Though we may have to wait for the next thing, we wait with hope because darkness descended on Golgotha that afternoon.

Where are you torn today and need to hear Jesus’ cry of hope?

Jesus, help us walk in your steps.

Image credit: JESUS MAFA. The Crucifixion; Jesus dies on the cross, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 31, 2017].

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Jamie Noyd

Jamie serves with IVCF Graduate and Faculty Ministries as campus staff at the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Northern Kentucky University (NKU). She has spent most of her life in the vicinity of the academy - from being the daughter of a professor to attending college herself. Upon returning to Cincinnati after four years in the Northeast, she took literature classes in her spare time while working as an economic analyst. She eventually earned an M.A. in English and then couldn’t stop. While serving as a program director for Notre Dame AmeriCorps in Cincinnati she completed her doctoral research in literature and religion - exploring the idea of literary pilgrimage. Through this life journey she has continued to experience and learn how Christ is at the center of all life - even in the university.

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