Good Friday Reflections

April 7, 2023

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

John 18:1-19:30

| Centering Prayer |

Ten candles extinguished this evening

Leaving only one,

One Pascal candle

To provide for the Light of the World.

We sit in the near-dark

Filled with inner doubts and fears;

Questions so deep

Words and language fail

Abandoning each

To random destinies.

The aging human is one

Constantly in a state of change.

Experience molds and shapes personality.

Physical changes whispers a message we don’t want to hear;

Weakness, dependency, mortality.

Faith, wavering between fleeting and dark roast bold,

Develops deeper acknowledgment

Of compromise, peace, and acceptance.

As I age,

I view the Passion

With new and fresh

eyes and ears

every revolution around the sun.

I have changed since last year.

You have changed, too.

Four fresh thoughts.

1.  Jesus knew all that was to happen to him.

It says so in John 18:4.

Across the Kidron

In the garden known as Gethsemane

In the dark

Jesus saw them approaching

Making a racket,

Metal clanging against metal,

Marching awkwardly,

Murmurs, grumbles, complaints,

The barking commands of one in charge.

“Lanterns and torches and weapons,” (18:3)

John records.

Ironic, don’t you think?

Lanterns, torches, and weapons

Come for the Light of the World

Come for the Prince of Peace.

Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. (18:5)

His work was done.

His betrayal complete

Playing out for all the world to see

Revealed by

Lanterns and torches and weapons.

Other than Judas and the others falling to the ground,

According to John,

He had no other role to play.

Why did Judas even show up?

Judas took his shot

And quietly exits stage left.

What is a revelation to you and me

Is familiar to Jesus.

Jesus knew.

What unfolded for the world to witness

With morbid fascination

Was known by Jesus prior to every tragic circumstance.

Yet, Jesus went willingly.

Without hesitation.



As moved by the unseen hand

Of a reluctant, yet willing,

Loving, heavenly Father.

Jesus knew.

What if we knew?

Perhaps we know.

For some, knowing is instinctive, intuitive,

The revelation of Divine will.

For others, knowing comes only by

Hard knocks, overwhelming obstacles, insurmountable odds.

How one gets from point A to point B

Is not so important

As long as one bleeds, dies, and is resurrected with Jesus. 


Just as Jesus knew,

You have been forgiven.

You are forgiven, and you will be forgiven.

Know you were born to be saved.

You live the life of salvation from sin and death.

And, when mortal life ceases your salvation will bring you eternal life.

Jesus knew.

I thought you should know, too.

2. Peter, Oh Peter.

How could you?

Peter, the Rock,

The first Apostle,

The one Jesus bestowed the keys of the Church,

The keys!

The keys!


Caught outside the gate

in the courtyard of Caiaphas

addressed by an anonymous guard,

denied knowing Jesus.

Integrity is what you do when no one is watching.

Jesus was out of earshot

inside being grilled by Caiaphas.

Peter was in a crowd outdoors.

Peter thought no one was listening

No one was watching.

However, Peter wasn’t alone.

He was with another disciple, John reports. (18:15)

That disciple was known;

Known to the high priest

And known to the woman standing guard at the gate.

Yup. A woman guard.

When the other disciple brought Peter in,

Through the gate,

The woman guard inquires in the negative,

“You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?”

“I am not,” replied Peter. (18:17)

“I am not”

Completes the portrait

Of a yellow-bellied coward

Fleeing responsibility,

Unaware and unconcerned of the unintended consequences

Of abandonment.

Peter becomes the personification of moral abandonment,

Of ethical desertion.


If God can build a Church

Upon Peter and this broke-down legacy

There is hope

There is promise

This church can be rebuilt.






The job is ours.

By us

For us

With God’s will and strength

To build!


From the smoking remnants of bygone eras

Wrecked by power, greed and virus,

Divided by politic and government,

Devastated by sin and death,

And the thin faith of Christmas and Easter attendance.


Upon Christ.

Take responsibility

And accept the keys to the front door.

“I am!” is the faithful response.

“I am a disciple of Jesus!”

“I was!”

“I was with him!”

“I will.”

“I will faithfully follow Jesus

Accept his every responsibility

With every breath

With every beat of my heart.”


3. Truth.

The thirty-seventh verse of chapter 18 caught my imagination.

When Pilate asked about his royalty

Jesus responds

“For this I was born,

And for this

I came into the world,

To testify to the truth.

Everyone who belong to the truth

Listens to my voice.’” (18:37)

Truth matters.

The world says otherwise.

Don’t believe the world.

Believe Jesus and his testimony.

I think I know what truth is.

You think you know what truth is.

Fact is, neither of us know truth

if we don’t listen to the voice of Jesus.

Hebrew scripture informs us about Jesus,

But is no substitute for the voice of Jesus.

New Testament letters inform us

Of early belief and practice

But is no substitute for the voice of Jesus.

Both orient us to the feet of Jesus.

But neither is a substitute for Christ himself.

Resist taking part in the half-truths,

white lies,

and bold-face lies of the world;

lies told by others,

lies told to others,

lies you tell yourself.

Resist lying.

You will sleep more soundly.

Your conscious will thank you.

Your soul will discover a new freedom

A new opportunity

To explore the fullness of Christ,

His words,

His actions,

His ordained mission

To unlock the chains that bind you

To set you free

To live with meaning and purpose

In God’s emerging kingdom.


One source.

One destination.

One place where truth can be found.


In Christ alone

Is truth.

4. Beware the Crowd.

Pilate asked the crowd,

“Shall I crucify your king?”

Who responded,

“We have no king but the emperor.” (19:15)

Beware public opinion.

Beware poling the congregation

As well as

Beware poling the population.

Crowds give anonymous feedback

Without fear of consequences, intended, or otherwise,

Often with a benign ignorance

Of human complexity and motive.

I understand

Popular opinion is the pinnacle of democracy.

Majority rule is the gold standard

Which the Gospel of Jesus Christ threatens to destabilize.

For there is among the faithful

A higher power

A gift given

To the observant

To the faithful.

The Holy Spirit speaks and works

Through individuals and small groups,

Is not bound by majority rule,

Yet, remains

The truth to which Jesus spoke.

The Holy Spirit gives conscience to individuals

Irregardless of position

– in the majority or in the minority.

The Holy Spirit

Plants seeds of truth

Deep in the hearts and minds

Of the committed to discern the whispers of God

The directives of the Divine.

The Holy Spirit is the source of truth,

Truth to be told

In spite of popular opinion, temptation, trials, or repercussions.

Truth spoken to power.

Truth with better than golden purity.

There you have it.

You’ve got what I have to give.

Jesus Christ knowingly,



Gave his life on the cross,

His witness

His gift

God’s grace

That you may be redeemed and saved,

That Christ’s Church universal may be redeemed and saved,

For this is Truth

The witness that points us and moves us forward.

His body is a corpse.

His Spirit has left.

A puncture of his side and lungs

Will make certain there is no resuscitation.

Other than clean up,

laying the corpse in the tomb,

sealing the door, and

posting a guard

our job here is done.

Our job here is done.


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