Murder Mysteries are very popular entertainment. We all like to solve mysteries and work out motives and plots.
On Good Friday we remember the worst murder ever, the murder of Jesus, the son of God. We can blame it on Judas, Pilate, the Scribes and Pharisees, the High Priest, or the vicious hostility of the crowds, that rose to a frenzy as they shouted, ‘crucify him’. However, we are all part of this story.
The hymn ‘In Christ Alone’ states that Jesus was ‘scorned by the ones he came to save, until on that cross, as Jesus died the wrath of God was satisfied. For every sin, on him, was laid’. The words ‘the wrath of God was satisfied’ stirred up some Christians, who requested the words be changed to ‘The love of God was magnified’. The authors refused!
Judgement and justice are components of any murder mystery. We seek retribution for wrongs, we become angry at injustice. The Old Testament speaks of God’s wrath against the rebellion of humanity, but Jesus showed God’s compassion, love, and mercy. He brought a new covenant simply love of God and one another. Jesus wept over Jerusalem, who shunned his love.
Atonement is the action of making amends for a wrong and Jesus’ passion and death reconciled God and humanity. This is a mystery (with many theological theories), but we know Jesus was shamed, humiliated, mocked, tortured, and killed. On his cross were written the words ‘king of the Jews’.
The kingdom of God is an upside-down kingdom where things are turned on their head. Jesus was a king who washed his disciple’s feet. He was fully human and in obedience to the will of God his Father sacrificed himself for us.
The mystery in this murder is atonement and we ponder with wonder on the at-one-ment that we find in knowing that Jesus is at one with us in our brokenness. He fully understands our humanity.
Julian of Norwich saw love as the meaning of the cross. Love that redeems broken relationships. First between God and us through Jesus, enabling us to eternally flourish whatever our earthly circumstances. Secondly, this leads on to reconciliation between each another, our communities, and our world.
When Jesus was in agony on the cross, he reached out in love to the repentant thief on a cross beside him and told him that they would be together in God’s kingdom. Jesus prayed for the Roman soldiers who crucified him, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do!’ Jesus knows and shares in our human brokenness. He looked down at his mother and entrusted her into the care of his beloved disciple and entrusted the disciple into the care of Mary, thus beginning the Church. Love and compassion were alongside evil murder!
Heaven and hell participated in the same murder but had different motives. God turned the evil murder of his son into the cure for the dis-ease of the world. The world’s worst murder became the world’s greatest salvation!
Angela Stewart, Lay Minister