Good Friday is a day for reflection.
What happened was wholly the result to Jesus’ remarkable but determined obedience. It was no tragic accident; it was no victory for wicked men, nor satanic powers; it was no disaster. It was the plan. That it was an act of obedience is clear from the night before in Gethsemane’s Garden, as Jesus couldn’t sleep for terror but still he prayed.
Not my will but yours be done. (Luke 22:42)
Jesus predicted with unnerving accuracy what would happen to him in Jerusalem (Luke 9:22). But still Jesus set out resolutely for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51). And once there, despite many opportunities to be diverted or soft-soap his message, he was prepared for it all. He even told a parable at this stage which poignantly anticipated precisely what was ahead (Luke 20:9-19) – this gives the both glorious and chilling interpretation from above of what it all means.
And this is why I love this image from David Hayward (aka NakedPastor) – he is a Canadian artist and former pastor – his cartoons are often bitingly satirical and close to the bone. I don’t always agree with their premise, but am always provoked to think freshly by them.
But this image below is one I return to often. It is called The Narrow Way and it works at so many different levels.
Three resonances in particular strike me:
- Jesus took the harder path
Jesus said: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Of course, what this image reminds us is the simple fact that Jesus is never one to expect of his followers what he’s not prepared to do himself. He himself chose the narrow way. He chose the cross.
- Jesus’ challenge to follow this path
Jesus said: “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:38-39).
He later expanded on this image when he rebukes Peter for his Satanic objection to this narrow way:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matthew 16:23-25)
- For Jesus (and us) the cross is not the end
As Peter preached on Pentecost, Jesus rose and thus defeated death:
“But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:24)
So paradoxically, and as this print illustrates so wonderfully, the cross was not a dead-end but THE way through.
Such is the wonder of Good Friday and Easter Day. Alleluia