From Good Friday, 1613. Riding Westward – by John Donne
But that Christ on this Crosse, did rise and fall,Sinne had eternally benighted all.Yet dare I’almost be glad, I do not seeThat spectacle of too much weight for mee.Who sees Gods face, that is selfe life, must dye;What a death were it then to see God dye?It made his owne Lieutenant Nature shrinke,It made his footstoole crack, and the Sunne winke.Could I behold those hands which span the Poles,And tune all spheares at once peirc’d with those holes?Could I behold that endlesse height which isZenith to us, and our Antipodes,Humbled below us? or that blood which isThe seat of all our Soules, if not of his,Made durt of dust, or that flesh which was worneBy God, for his apparell, rag’d, and torne?
We may say that on the first Good Friday afternoon was completed that great act by which light conquered darkness and goodness conquered sin. That is the wonder of our Saviour’s crucifixion. There have been victories all over the world, but wherever we look for the victor we expect to find him with his heel upon the neck of the vanquished. The wonder of Good Friday is that the victor lies vanquished by the vanquished one. We have to look deeper into the very heart and essence of things before we can see how real the victory is that thus hides itself under the guise of defeat. – Phillip Brooks
“THE PASSION” – by George Herbert
Since blood is fittest, Lord, to write
Thy sorrows in, and bloody fight;
My heart hath store; write there, where in
One box doth lie both ink and sin:
That when sin spies so many foes,
Thy whips, thy nails, thy wounds, thy woes,
All come to lodge there, sin may say,
No room for me, and fly away.
Sin being gone, oh fill the place,
And keep possession with thy grace;
Lest sin take courage and return,
And all the writings blot or burn.
It is to the Cross that the Christian is challenged to follow his Master: no path of redemption can make a detour around it. – Hans Urs von Balthasar
How, O Life, canst Thou die? Or abide in a grave.
For Thou dost destroy the kingdom of death, O Lord,
and Thou raisest up the dead of Hades realm.
In a grave they laid Thee, O my Life and my Christ.
Yet behold now, by Thy death, death is stricken down,
and Thou pourest forth life’s streams for all the world.
In the Cross of Christ there is a disorder that is rectified, a stain that is removed, a disease that is cured, a penalty that is paid, a something wrong that is made right by Jesus’ sacrifice of himself. Jesus anticipates that horrible reality in the Garden of Gethsemane and acknowledges that the “cup” of suffering must be drained by someone–either us or him. However we feel about him and however he feels about us, the cup is still there. And he chooses to drink it on our behalf. – John Stackhouse
“GOOD FRIDAY” – by Christina G. Rossetti
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky.
A horror of great darkness at broad noon –
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:4-5
Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. – John 1:29