Every year for the past twelve years I have given a sermon as part of our clergy association’s three hour community Good Friday service. Usually we each comment on one of Jesus’ seven last words, or the eight stations of the cross. This year we chose to do something different and split up the story from the gospel of Mark. I was to discuss Mark 14:22-31 within a twenty minute time slot that included a hymn (“The way, the truth and the life”), one of our church members reading the passage, followed by my comments below, and concluding with our soloist singing Mary Baker Eddy’s hymn “Saw Ye My Savior.” Below is what I said:
My Good Friday Sermon
“What was Jesus trying to say, calling his body bread and his blood wine? What was his intent? Was he setting up a ritual for us to observe religiously? Or was he reassuring his disciples that he could remain as close to them – as integral to their life and existence – as their very food and drink? He wanted to remain in intimate relation to them as the sustainer of their lives. He wanted his followers to be like him – with the same body of thought, the same willingness to lay down their life for others, motivated by the same heavenly inspiration that supported all that he did.
Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life.” As the man Jesus was preparing to depart, he was laying groundwork for the understanding that the Christ would always remain with us. He had come to reveal a larger Truth than had ever been experienced before, full of healing, compassion, and love for others. One of his last wishes was for us to imbibe the essence of all that he represented, and to practice it practically in everything that we do.
Are we doing this? Are we gobbling up the bread of truth? What if we only took in truth – accepted a diet of nothing other than the Christ consciousness? What if we drank in only inspiration of the type that animated Jesus? The Christ saw everything as God does, and Jesus asks us to follow suit, in remembrance of him. What would the world look like if we actually consistently did this?
Jesus wasn’t merely asking for it or recommending that we do it. His statements are imperative commands. He is binding us to represent him, by a powerful covenant, sealed with his own blood, which he is about to willingly pour out on our behalf. The best man that ever trod the globe is demanding this hard bought covenant with us. A covenant is a sacred pact, an agreement, a holy, binding contract. He has kept and is keeping his end of the bargain. Are we? Do we see as he saw, and act as he did?
Jesus is telling his disciples he is going and that he will be “raised up.” He is confident about his part, but is imploring us to connect with ours. He knows he’ll be drinking new wine in the kingdom of God. But can we make the transition from being shepherded personally by Jesus to being shepherded instead by the invisible Christ?
He knows the process will be a bumpy one. Fear and doubt, sin and carnal-mindedness will try to creep in. Jesus has set the bar for us so very high. We are to be like him, because he came to show us who we are; no excuses. But who can begin to follow his consummate example? Who has not denied him more than three times? Myself, I’m guilty of it a zillion times. It is easy to disappoint ourselves with our lack of courage, our unbelief, our obsession with material things, other people, times and places. But I also know the Christ as the divine message itself from God to man speaking in a way each individual can hear, understand and respond to. We can do what Jesus requires of us by degrees, with loads ongoing divine help.
And although we each may individually struggle to imbibe only the bread of truth and to have his will pulsate continuously through our veins, after all this time we are not so scattered anymore. We are here ecumenically gathered around his table, collectively focusing on honoring his covenant in our lives. Just as he was sure God would usher him safely through his sacrifice, Jesus knew his faith in us as God’s children was not misplaced. He couldn’t have been wrong that we were able to uphold our end of the deal. He was to fulfill his mission and so will we.”