There is something deeply moving about Good Friday. Good Friday invites us to come to the cross. It beckons us to stand or kneel in awe before the reality of this night. The words of John Bowring’s great hymn portray the essence: “In the cross of Christ I glory, towering o’er the wrecks of time”
The truth we know well. The cross was a cruel form of the death penalty used by the Roman Empire as deterrent. Today’s equivalent is the electric chair or the syringe for a lethal injection. Yet for many, the cross is simply a nice piece of jewelry; a dangling bauble to hang on a chain.
This night invites us back to the strange world of the first Holy Week and thrusts us forward into our bruised and bleeding modern world. On this night the Roman sign of cruel death is transformed into a cross of life for today.
Consider well how the teaching from Hebrews invites us to participate in the transformation from a crucifixion of cruelty to a cross of life. It begins with a quotation of Jeremiah 31:33. God acts to indelibly write the law on our hearts. Such action by God is stunning movement beyond pitiful human attempts to sacrifice, cleanse, or fix the problem of our brokenness.
God’s law is not a rule to keep from a dusty book but a living relational covenant of love. The additional quotation of Jeremiah 33:34 makes explicit the mercy we receive. “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” Metaphorically we approach the cross out of God’s gracious action of undeserved mercy or not at all.