I had something else in mind when I started writing an entry for Good Friday. I was impressed by the phrase “the time when the power of darkness reigns” in Luke 22:52-53:
“Then Jesus spoke to the leading priests, the captains of the Temple guard, and the elders who had come for him. “Am I some dangerous revolutionary,” he asked, “that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there every day. But this is your moment, the time when the power of darkness reigns.”
At that particular moment, Jesus allowed himself to be taken captive by those powers that worked in the dark, away from the eyes of the few who would insist on proper protocol, and accountability and the checks and balances that are meant to thwart the misuse of power.
This was a misuse of power.
This morning as I woke I heard: He came to set the captives free.
I’ve been too impressed by the reign of darkness. Jesus said later that his submission to those who would kill him was voluntary.
Love is always voluntary, or it is not love.
This morning the words I heard, “He came to set the captives free,” struck me with the full beauty of irony. Jesus became a captive so he could set the captives free. Jesus died to overcome death.
Jesus died so he could overcome death.
I found a photo I took in Jerusalem at Lithostrotos (Roman Paving) under the Convent of Ecce Homo (Behold the Man – Pilates words when he handed Jesus over to be crucified). In a dark low-ceiling room now underground, it is thought to be the place where Jesus’ trial was held and where the Roman soldiers tortured him.
Our guide told us it was unusually quiet that day. I sat on a stone bench and sang, “My Jesus, I love Thee… If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now,” with tears streaming down my face.
Of all the places we visited in Israel this place had the most emotional impact on me. I could feel the darkness, and yet I could also feel the light that rose out of this powerful yet powerless environment that once echoed with the sound of whips and jibes, knowing that it is by his stripes that we are healed.
His wounds became our health.
Jesus entered darkness to bring light. He became a man of sorrow that we might share the joy set before him. He gave up his liberty to set us free. He became sin that we might be free from sin.
Behold the Man