Good Friday - Reflections


The government of Polish Prime Minister Jaruzelski had ordered crucifixes removed from classroom walls, just as they had been banned in factories, hospitals, and other public institutions. Catholic bishops attacked the ban that had stirred waves of anger and resentment all across Poland. Ultimately the government relented, insisting that the law remain on the books, but agreeing not to press for removal of the crucifixes, particularly in the schoolrooms.
But one zealous Communist school administrator in Garwolin decided that the law was the law. So one evening he had seven large crucifixes removed from lecture halls where they had hung since the school's founding in the twenties. Days later, a group of parents entered the school and hung more crosses. The administrator promptly had these taken down as well.
The next day two-thirds of the school's six hundred students staged a sit-in. When heavily armed riot police arrived, the students were forced into the streets. Then they marched, crucifixes held high, to a nearby church where they were joined by twenty-five hundred other students from nearby schools for a morning of prayer in support of the protest. Soldiers surrounded the church. But the pictures from inside of students holding crosses high above their heads flashed around the world. So did the words of the priest who delivered the message to the weeping congregation that morning. "There is no Poland without a cross." 
Chuck Colson, Kingdoms in Conflict, pp. 202-3.

In Planet In Rebellion, George Vandeman wrote: "It was May 21, 1946. The place - Los Alamos. A young and daring scientist was carrying out a necessary experiment in preparation for the atomic test to be conducted in the waters of the South Pacific atoll at Bikini. "He had successfully performed such an experiment many times before. In his effort to determine the amount of U-235 necessary for a chain reaction--scientists call it the critical mass--he would push two hemispheres of uranium together. Then, just as the mass became critical, he would push them apart with his screwdriver, thus instantly stopping the chain reaction. But that day, just as the material became critical, the screwdriver slipped! The hemispheres of uranium came too close together. Instantly the room was filled with a dazzling bluish haze. Young Louis Slotin, instead of ducking and thereby possibly saving himself, tore the two hemispheres apart with his hands and thus interrupted the chain reaction. By this instant, self-forgetful daring, he saved the lives of the seven other persons in the room. . . as he waited. . for the car that was to take him to the hospital, he said quietly to his companion, 'You'll come through all right. But I haven't the faintest chance myself' It was only too true. Nine days later he died in agony.
George Vandeman, Planet in Rebellion.

If you were to look at Rembrandt's painting of The Three Crosses, your attention would be drawn first to the center cross on which Jesus died. Then as you would look at the crowd gathered around the foot of that cross, you'd be impressed by the various facial expressions and actions of the people involved in the awful crime of crucifying the Son of God. Finally, your eyes would drift to the edge of the painting and catch sight of another figure, almost hidden in the shadows. Art critics say this is a representation of Rembrandt himself, for he recognized that by his sins he helped nail Jesus to the cross.
Source Unknown.

Short Statements on the Cross

Jesus was crucified, not in a cathedral between two candles, but on a cross between two thieves. 
George F. MacLeod.

The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its standard. 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

The cross cannot be defeated, for it is defeat. 
Gilbert K. Chesterton.

There are no crown-wearers in heaven who were not cross- bearers here below. 
Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

We need men of the cross, with the message of the cross, bearing the marks of the cross. 
Vance Havner.

Christ's cross is such a burden as sails are to a ship or wings to a bird. 
Samuel Rutherford.

He came to pay a debt He didn't owe because we owed a debt we couldn't pay. 

The old cross slew men; the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned; the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encourages it.  
A.W. Tozer.

All heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, all hell is terribly afraid of it, while men are the only beings who more or less ignore its meaning. 
Oswald Chambers.

The cross: God's way of uniting suffering with love.  
Georgia Harkness.


In evil long I took delight,
Unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight,
And stopp'd my wild career:
I saw One hanging on a Tree
In agonies and blood,
Who fix'd His languid eyes on me.
As near His Cross I stood.
Sure never till my latest breath,
Can I forget that look:
It seem'd to charge me with His death,
Though not a word He spoke:
My conscience felt and own'd the guilt,
And plunged me in despair:
I saw my sins His Blood had spilt,
And help'd to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did!
But now my tears are vain:
Where shall my trembling soul be hid?
For I the Lord have slain!
A second look He gave, which said,
"I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid;
I die that thou may'st live."
Thus, while His death my sin displays
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace,
It seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief, and mournful joy,
My spirit now if fill'd,
That I should such a life destroy,
Yet live by Him I kill'd!
John Newton, 1725-1807
Powdered Christian. You might remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff. When he first came to the United States from Russia he was not prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores. He says, "On my first shopping trip with my American friend , I saw powdered milk. What is it , I asked. My friend explained, “You just add water, and you get milk.” I was amazed. Then I saw powdered orange juice--you just add water, and you get orange juice! And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to myself, you add water and get a ready made baby!! “What a country!" So many Christian denominations claim that they can make powdered Christians. They preach: “Accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, surrender your life to him and confess your sins to him. You are saved.“ Once saved, you are always saved. Just add water and disciples are born not made. Unfortunately, there is no such powder, and disciples of Jesus Christ are not instantly born. We must understand what it really means to be a Christian disciple from the mouth of Jesus. He proclaimed in Mathew 16: 24, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16: 24).It means that a truly practicing Christian must be a self denying and cross carrying Christian who obeys the teachings of Jesus. That is why we ask the question on Good Friday: what is the real message of the cross?

1) “But you wear a cross.” On her first night there, the head counselor said that three of the boys had asked to escort her to dinner. Alone! How would she handle it if all three decided to act out at once? She swallowed hard. She desperately needed this job so she fought back the panic and walked with her charges to the dining hall. They passed through the cafeteria line as tantrums and fights erupted around them. Fortunately none of her boys exhibited any kind of behavioral outburst. They made their way to a table in the center of the busy cafeteria and the boys took their seats. Margaret picked up her fork and was about to take the first bite when she noticed that all three boys were staring at her. "What's the matter?" she asked. Aren't you going to ask a blessing?" asked eight-year-old Peter. "I didn't think I was supposed to," she responded. "This is a state school, isn't it?" "Yes," said David, his blue eyes brimming, "but you wear a cross." Her grandmother's words surged to the surface of her memory. "Never forget what this cross means," her grandmother said. "We thought that meant something," said Roman, clearly disappointed. "It does. Thank you for reminding me," Margaret said, as she bowed her head, no longer afraid. (CATHOLIC DIGEST, Feb. 92, p. 64) Margaret learned something about sainthood that day. Saints trust in God and God alone for their ultimate security. Saints submit their will to the will of God. Saints stand firm and witness to their faith.
2) What’s that plus sign doing up here? A young Jewish girl visiting a Catholic church for the first time, was puzzled at the cross on the altar. She asked her Catholic friend, “Marie, Why do you keep that plus sign on the altar? That’s one wrong understanding – the cross as a plus sign. It is an equally distasteful idea that the cross is the I, the capital “I” crossed out. The truth is that cross is “I” stretched out - reaching down into the ground of being, up in the infinity of becoming, and out toward as many others as it can touch. With the Cross as a plus sign shaping our lives, we can live while we wait, knowing that a) renewal comes through rejoicing; b) grace is communication by gentleness; c) peace comes through prayer; and d) attitudes produce action.
3) You took my parking space at church: One day, a man went to visit a church; He got there early, parked his car and got out. Another car pulled up near the driver got out and said, “I always park there! You took my place!"
The visitor went inside for Sunday school, found an empty seat and sat down A young lady from the church approached him and stated, "That’s my seat! You took my place!" The visitor was somewhat distressed by this rude welcome, but said nothing. After Sunday school, the visitor went into the sanctuary and sat down. Another member walked up to him and said, “That’s where I always sit! You took my place!" The visitor was even more troubled by this treatment, but still He said nothing. Later as the congregation was praying for Christ to dwell among them, the visitor stood up, and his appearance began to change. Horrible scars became visible on his hands and on his sandaled feet. Someone from the congregation noticed him and called out, "What happened to you?" The visitor replied, as his hat became a crown of thorns, and a tear fell from his eye, "I took your place.”
 June 22, 1996 in Ann Arbor, Michigan there was a rally of the Ku Klux Klan at the City Hall. It was quite legal. There were also 300 anti-Klan people assembled to protest the rally. One white male Klansman stood out, perhaps because he was proudly displaying Confederate flags on his vest and T-shirt. Suddenly, without warning, a swarm of angry anti-Klan demonstrators rushed him, pushed him to the ground, beat him with their signs and kicked him. Appalled, an 18-year-old African American girl named Keisha Thomas, threw herself over the fallen man, shielding him with her own body from the kicks and punches. Keisha, when asked why she, a black teenager, would risk injury to protect a man who was a white supremacist said, "He's still somebody's child. I don't want people to remember my name but I'd like them to remember I did the right thing." A black teen laying down her life for a racist - an enemy. I think Keisha understood Good Friday, understood Jesus' words "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Lesson in unconditional forgiveness: If someone hurts our feelings can we forgive that person,   pray for God's blessings on him or her and continue to treat him or her as our friend?  Here is a Chinese proverb: "One who hates another digs two graves: one for himself and the other for the one he hates."  St. Paul admonishes, "Be ye therefore kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another" (Ephesians 4:32).  He advises the Romans: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good"(12: 20-21).
2. The word of assurance: Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." He replied to him, "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42-43).  On either side of Jesus, on their crosses were two thieves.  These two were really guilty men who deserved death.  When sunlight falls on wax it melts, but the same light hardens the clay.  The waxy heart of the thief on the right (traditionally called Dismas) literally melted with repentance at the sight of Jesus crucified, prompting him to address Jesus humbly and devoutly," Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom."  Jesus said, "Today you shall be with me in Paradise." Dismas did not have to confess all his sins to Jesus - Jesus forgave and forgot them all… and at once!  But the hard-hearted, unrepentant sinner on the left remained that way in spite of Jesus' presence and exemplary, heroic death right before his eyes. 
Judas committed the same folly as the thief on the left, hardening his heart with unbridled love for money, in spite of his three years of close association with Jesus and active participation in his healing and preaching ministry.  The same thing happened to Cardinal Woolsey of England who sided with the emperor Henry VIII in creating a heretical Christian denomination and died in despair, while Henry's Vice Chancellor Thomas Moore bravely courted martyrdom for his faith.