On Good Friday the story of Jesus’s suffering and death is the Gospel of John 18:1 -19:42.
Notice one very important thing in this story: Jesus is controlling it always. Everything that happens to him, Jesus allows and influences how it happens. There are many important ideas in this story; let me pick a few ideas and talk about them.
The story begins in the garden. The soldiers come in and look for Jesus and he says, “I am.” A strange answer, but remember “I am” is the name of God in the Old Testament, the name God gave to Moses to tell the people the name of their God. Jesus tells the soldiers they are coming to grab the Son of the God of the Old Testament. What do the soldiers do? They are amazed and overwhelmed; they fall down.
Some of his followers want to fight, but Jesus forbids it, why? He must do what God his Father wants; he must give his life so all people, you and me, can have the full life God wants to give us. Jesus does not accomplish his work by violence; he succeeds by giving his life in love for us. He forbids violence.
The soldiers bring Jesus to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, for a trial. Jesus and Pilate talk about many things. One thing Jesus says is that he came here to announce the truth. Truth about what? About God — God is a loving Father; truth about the Kingdom of God–it is not a place but an attitude where love influences everything; truth about life–true living is serving others; truth about freedom–freedom means becoming the person God wants you to be; truth about forgiveness–God wants to forgive all and lead all into union with God.
The soldiers force Jesus to carry his cross and then nail him to the cross. With Jesus are only a few persons, some brave women, Jesus’s mother, and the disciple Jesus loved. The disciple, the follower, Jesus loved, who is that? He never has a name in the gospel, because he is all of us. We are the disciple Jesus loves. From the cross Jesus looks to his mother and says there is your son. The son means all of us. Jesus gives his mother to all of us. He looks to the disciple, to us, and says this woman is your mother. From the cross one of Jesus’s last gifts was his mother, Mary, to be our mother. This is the reason we Catholics strongly honor Mary as our mother.
When his suffering is almost at the end, Jesus says, “It is finished.” What is finished? Jesus’s work is finished. Jesus has done the work God his Father gave him to do and Jesus did it. Now he can give his life fully to his Father. Then Jesus dies. The gospel says he gave his spirit. What does that mean, he gave his spirit? Jesus gave his breath, his life, and also it means he gave his life-giving Holy Spirit. He gave his Holy Spirit to whom? To you and to me. From the cross Jesus’s Holy Spirit, his life-breath, comes to us.
Later the soldiers come to the dead body of Jesus. To prove he is dead, they stick a spear into his heart. Then comes out what? Blood and water. From the heart of Jesus comes water, for what? To give life, new life, to whom? To you and to me, how? In Baptism. The life Jesus gives on the cross comes to us first in Baptism. Then from Jesus’s heart comes Blood, why? So that blood can be given to us, how? In the Holy Meal, the Mass, the Eucharist. From the heart of Jesus on the cross his life-giving Blood comes to us in Holy Communion in the Mass. Jesus’s life can now be in us.
On the cross Jesus gave his life for you and for me. On the cross Jesus gave his love to you and to me. Every time you look at the cross and see Jesus on the cross, remember all the suffering happened to him to benefit you and to benefit me.