Once for all
(By Rev Paul Graham)
Today is the blackest of days in the Christian calendar. It’s the day when we remember Jesus’s death on the cross, the torturous death of a common criminal. As much as we try to airbrush and sanitise this act in art and jewellery, today we are confronted by the reality of brutality, injustice and pain. The image below captures something of the horror of the cross, sculpted by a Brazilian artist who had himself experienced torture.
The screaming face, the stretched skin revealing ribs that you can almost sense struggling to contain the overworked heart and lungs. This is the image of the death of Jesus that sticks in my mind today.
I’m drawn to that open mouth and find myself wondering what the onlookers can hear.
Is Jesus screaming in pain, wracked from the ripping of the nails and the rough wood against his broken skin?
Or is he screaming out his feeling of abandonment by his Father? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Is this Jesus gasping for a drink to moisten his lips? “I thirst!”
Or is he screaming his plea for God’s grace? “Father, forgive!”
Or is it the final cry as Jesus’s body gives up the struggle, a scream of both defeat and triumph? “It is finished!”
These words of Jesus remind us that in the midst of the agony of Jesus’s death, his thoughts were for himself, his failing strength, those around him and for the whole of humanity.
Christ died, taking the burden of all sin upon those bruised shoulders in one act of bloodied love.
Today, we think of those who Christ died for who have sinned against their neighbours:
- Christ died for all who have shopped extravagantly without thought for others’ needs
- Christ died for all who have gathered thoughtlessly without consideration for others’ vulnerabilities
- Christ died for all who have abused viciously without caring for others’ feelings
But we also remember that Christ died for all who have sinned in spite of their good works:
- Christ died for all who have volunteered, cared and supported their neighbours
- Christ died for all who have kept connected, communicating with friends and family
- Christ died for all who have used technology to sustain spirituality, faith and prayer
We also remember that Christ died for all sectors and societies
- Christ died for carers and teachers
- Christ died for the very rich and the very poor
- Christ died for Boris and for dear old Doris
Christ died for you and for me. Our cry today echoes that of Jesus on the cross “Father, forgive.”
It is enough – it is finished.