Good Friday – Hebrews 5:7-10

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

I must admit that this passage used to perplex me. It says that Jesus’ loud cries and tears were heard. But I thought that God had denied his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane to “let his cup pass from me.” Heard but denied? I have come to realize that I was thinking of saving from death all wrong. When I pray for God to save me from death, I really think of God saving me from dying. Jesus was not praying in the garden not to die. He prayed that His Father would raise Him from death, saving him from death, not from dying. He was all set to die. God heard that prayer and said yes. We know it. Easter happened.

We come this day to the solemn observation of Jesus crucifixion, death, and burial. We will hear that terrible tempter’s voice whisper in our mental ear that Jesus has lost. He has given up His spirit. His body has sagged in death on that cross. He is a loser. God did not help Him.

The believer, however, knows something Satan does not. While death looks like the end to Satan and to us, it does not look that way to Jesus or to His Father. Have you ever noticed in the Gospel readings that Jesus does not seem to see dead people as dead? The daughter of the synagogue ruler in Mark 5 is asleep according to Jesus. The widow of Nain’s son on the bier is someone Jesus can talk to. Even Lazarus, dead in the grave for days is able to hear Jesus’ voice.

Jesus prayed that his Father would lift Him from the grave because Jesus knew something about that grave which is impenetrable and mysterious to us. God is life. Death is like a shadow to the sun. The sun never really sees shadows. God never really sees death; it flees before him like shadows flee before the light of the sun. Jesus, participating in our humanity knew the terror of death and so He prayed. His death was really death. God heard Him. Remember that when you listen to the passion story read today. Remember that as you go about your life on this solemn Saturday. Remember that as you come to Church on Sunday. God heard His prayer. God rescued him and us from death.

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