On this day, the devil conspires to lead man to put to death God's Son.
Jesus suffered flogging, scenes of humiliation, and the betrayal of the Apostle Judas: one of those closest to him. It would appear that Jesus was not exempt from any form of darkness before finally being condemned to carry his cross to Calvary and to face the punishment normally handed out to criminals: death by crucifixion. He would be denied by Peter three times, given a crown of thorns and mocked by those who would nail him to the cross. All this when he had come as a Prince of Peace.
In asking his son to suffer all forms of evil in the process of overcoming death, God the Father compassionately granted him the assistance of Simon of Cyrene in carrying his cross and also the attentiveness of Veronica, his Mother and the disciple, John. Though many close to him betrayed him and hid, not all that loved him deserted him, showing the strength and testament of love, which he had come to teach.
Secondly, in today's Gospel, we hear Jesus, taunted by the authorities, explaining that his is a different path, a route which is not of human triumph:
'Mine is not a kingdom of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, my men would have fought to prevent my being surrendered to the Jews, But my kingdom is not of this kind.'
later Jesus goes on to say to Pilate:
'You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above: that is why the one who handed me over to you has the greater guilt'.
Although we do not hear it in John's Gospel today, the other Evangelists record this memory:
'And the people stood by, watching, but the leaders scoffed at him saying 'He saved others, let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, the chosen one' - cf. Luke 23.35
What appears to be an earthly demise is unexpectedly in line with the Father's will for His Son: the two perspectives are in direct contrast to each other. There was a reason for Christ having to drink the cup put before him in order to bring about the New Covenant. The 'Good' in Good Friday is derived from a time when this word meant 'Holy', and in earlier times it would have been more commonly understood to be 'Holy Friday'.
Through Jesus's sacrifice today, we see earthly demise and despair, but Jesus defeats the devil through the ultimate gift of his life, in all its perfection. In overcoming death he attains mercy for us all and a way to reach God directly, so that we may be with Him in His eternal home.
May we be granted the gift of seeing life through the Father's eyes, and refrain from judging via our own perceptions. His Kingdom is perhaps not a place of earthly logic or achievement, although our gifts are God-given and we should use them. Rather, it is where God's love for his sons and daughters overcomes all manner of wrongs, and of sin: in his abundant mercy, love reigns.
(St George's Cathedral)