Isaiah 52:13-53:12 / Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9 / John 18:1-19:42
The suffering of Jesus, which we remember on this holy night, would be appalling enough if this put an end to something so terrible: if Jesus’ death on the cross forever ended the tyrannical power of unjust rulers; or forever ended conspiracy and betrayal and discrimination; or forever ended martyrs’ giving up their lives; or forever ended suffering from disease and diminishment, or even death itself. None of this has ended. If anything, Jesus’ death on the cross was the start of something. We are not spared the experience of the cross, we are shared the experience. Jesus said, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (1) Down through the centuries, many people in many places have understood Jesus’ words about “taking up your cross” quite literally. Even today Christians are being killed in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Nigeria, Kenya, and countless other places around our world. Tyrannical power, injustice, discrimination, disease, and death continue without end.