The Magnetism of the Cross

Good Friday, Year B

2 April 2021

Scripture: John 18:1-19:42

Reading: They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews.”(John 18:40)

Reflection:Each year on Good Friday, the Gospel reading repeats John’s lengthy description of the trumped-up religious-political accusations levied at Jesus, His arrest, trial and sentencing.  Today, as we venerate the Cross – that crude and repulsive ‘symbol of suffering and shame’ transformed, for Resurrection people, into a magnet of glory, liberation and life, we look briefly at an early disciple for whom Jesus’ death on the Cross did more than all the miracles and teachings of His earthly ministry.

Although the Twelve betray, deny, cower and flee, Joseph of Arimathea declares himself for Christ. Without hesitation or fear, he comes out of the shadows boldly asking for permission to bury the body of One executed as a threat to national security.  He is assisted by Nicodemus, another “closet” disciple, whose inborn candour and love of truth shine through and prompt bold and generous use of his resources to embalm the Teacher’s body with a large quantity of expensive spices.

Jesus’ earthly life ends as it began: in the human guardianship of a strong, compassionate man whose words Scripture does not record:  Joseph of Arimathea, righteous and respected, bravely and publicly affirms his loyalty. He trusts and hopes against all evidence pointing to disappointment and disillusionment. But what if Joseph had spoken up when charges were laid against Jesus? What if Jesus could have detected a supportive face of authority in that hostile crowd?  Joseph gave his best, his own new tomb however, without knowing that it would become empty so soon.   

Does any alarm sound to indicate a safe end to Joseph’s marginal connection? When does insufficient tacit support force one out of the closet to stand up for what one believes?  When do verbose tributes, bejewelled caskets and expensive wreaths become “too little too late”?

The appropriate time is when the magnetism of the Cross neutralizes fear; and transforms prudent concealment and insensibility to sacrificial acts of brave, Christian charity.

Meditation: Jesus Himself foretold the magnetic power of the Cross.  “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Prayer: “O my Saviour, lifted from the earth for me, Draw me, in Thy mercy, Nearer unto Thee. (William Walsham How – CPWI Hymnal #354)

The St. Jude’s Writers

St. Jude’s Church

Stony Hill

Anglican Diocese of Jamaica and The Cayman Islands

2 April 2021