A good Good Friday morning to you, my amazing Mini-Women with your amazing comments. Is it just me, or are your comments coming out so much more mature and deep than they did even a week ago? ABBY, YOOMIN, PETRA, CHANTEY, BAYLEE, EMMA, MARY, CASEY, JOSIE -- I'm watching all of you grow every day. I'm thinking that God is loving this.
It's been a great Holy Week, hasn't it? And now we face the final day, what is known as Good Friday. We know why they call it "Good". This is the day God showed the world that he was willing to allow his Son to die so that we would understand that we don't have to. Okay, yes, we're all going to die as people on earth. But (a) we will go on to live with him "in Paradise" (as Jesus told the robber who was dying beside him) and (b) our time here doesn't have to be a living death, full of hatred and meanness and anger and all the things we see so many people living out. It IS a "good" day.
But it sure didn't seem like it at the time. Let's take a look at that, Mini-Women:
READ: Luke 23:32-49 Jesus is nailed to his cross, which is planted in the ground between two actual criminals. It wasn't humiliating enough just to be crucified? They had to hang him up there with lowlife robbers? His enemies thought of everything, didn't they? The soldiers mocked him -- one of the criminals even taunted him. The other one, however, got it. He wasn't the only one in that jeering crowd who did. When Jesus finally died after hours of agony, a centurion said, "Certainly this man was innocent." (In Mark's Gospel, it's "Truly this man was God's Son.")
PONDER THIS: In spite of all he was going through, Jesus was still all about forgiveness. I don't know about you, but that would have been the last thing on MY mind. For anyone else it would have been hard to say:
To God, about the people putting him to death: "Father forgive them ; for they do not know what they are doing."
To the criminal who said, "Remember me when you come into your kingdom": "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
To God, whom Jesus earlier thought had forsaken him (that's in Mark 15:34): "Father into your hands I commend my spirit."
TURN IT INWARD: Have you ever been so hurt and angry at the way someone was treating you that you couldn't bring yourself to forgive them? That you felt like you hated them? That you wondered if God was even there to help you? Are you in that place now? Is there somebody you need to forgive, even though you can't be friends? Is there someone you can stop judging?
TALK TO JESUS ABOUT IT: I have to say, today, Good Friday, is the perfect day to take some quiet time and lay that all out for our Lord. He went through a thing a thousand times worse than what you're experiencing, which doesn't mean what you're dealing with doesn't hurt. It means Jesus knows exactly how you feel. He didn't die for nothing. He died (and returned) so you'll know you can trust him with everything and he'll totally get it. Ask him how he forgave, so you can do it too. Ask him why he didn't judge his enemies instead of saying, "They don't know what they're doing." Ask him to show you how you can handle your current situation, the way he would. Spend some time drawing or walking -- anything that doesn't require a whole lot of thinking so you can listen. Jesus will have something to say, somehow.
NOW . . . If you do get a clear thought or feeling about how to forgive, how to stop judging, take a step. Tell that bully that even though you want nothing further to do with her, you forgive her. Tell that person who's being inappropriate that you're going to stop judging him and pray for him instead. Now, understand, there is no doubt that person will laugh at you or make some snarky remark or just stare at you and walk away. I know that can be painful, too, so if you're not ready to do that, it's okay. Just do it in your heart. Forgive. Stop judging. Pray. You might be surprised how that changes how you act next time you see that person.
SHARE: At the end of today's passage, Luke writes: "All his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things." Imagine yourself among them. As you watch from afar, what doy you see that might change the way you do something today, this Good Friday? Will you forgive your sister for telling your mom something about you that wasn't true? Will you forgive your mom for believing her? Will you stop judging your sister and instead pray that she'll see her own good qualities so she doesn't have to put you down to make herself feel better? Tell us. It will make this an even better Good Friday.
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