22 And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? NIV
It is Good Friday evening. As I reflect on Holy Week and what it means to me in the context of today’s church and society, I feel a deep sense of sadness and loss. What’s so good about Good Friday? Our Lord ends up dragging His cross up Calvary’s hill and being nailed to that same cross as a result of lying witnesses and a corrupt justice system.
Luke’s narrative follows the feeding of the five thousand and Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ. Jesus blessed and broke two fish and five loaves, directing His disciples to feed the five thousand. Good news! Peter opens his mouth and declares the great truth that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah. More good news! Verse 22 signals a dramatic shift. The Son of Man must suffer and be rejected by the religious leaders of His day: the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. Jesus declares He must be killed and be raised from the dead on the third day. His is a pathway of pain, suffering and death. What’s good about Good Friday?
The events of that Friday long ago set the stage for His ultimate victory – His victory over sin and the grave – the resurrection to life eternal. Instead of a deep sense of sadness and loss, the love and sacrifice modelled by our Lord on that day gives me a deeper sense of hope and joy knowing that those who follow Jesus can demonstrate that same love and sacrifice in our contemporary circles of influence.
Following His example, Jesus sets a high bar for true discipleship. Like Him, we are called upon the forsake our personal life agendas to daily pursue the divine agenda and follow Jesus. To forsake the divine agenda for our lives is to lose the true purpose of life; however, to forsake our personal agendas to pursue our divine purpose and calling is to salvage our divine purpose of being servant leaders for church and society.
An unknown writer defined J-O-Y as Jesus first, Others second, and lastly Yourself. It is the work of Ecumenical Theological Seminary to do our part in shaping selfless leaders. May God help us in this call to serve others.
Wishing You a Blessed Easter,
The Rev. Dr. Kenneth E. Harris