Homily for Good Friday on John 18
Pastor Uri Brito
People of God, the gospel of St. John is a story of betrayal, mockery and innocence. This is made clear as we analyze the events preceding the death of our Messiah. In chapter 18, Judas betrays our Lord with a kiss. Psalm 2 says to” kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. ” But the prophetic tone of the Psalter is one of submission. We are to kiss the Son out of submission. Judas kisses the Son out of rebellion. Instead of appeasing the Lord’s anger, Judas now takes the first step in bringing the judgment of God upon this world through God’s crucified Son. The cross condemns unbelief and it saves those in the light. Our lives are to be lived in utter submission to our crucified Lord and we kiss the Son not in betrayal, but in utter submission to our King.
In John 18, there is yet another denial. It is the well-known denial of Peter. Peter denies our Lord three times. The Jews in chapter 19 also deny the Lord three times. And finally, if we consider the gospel of St. Mark chapter 15, we see that there is a three-fold mockery of our Lord at the cross. This three-fold mockery and denial reveal the fullness of the sufferings of our Lord. Now the religious leaders of the day deny our Lord because they are in utter rebellion with the true God of Israel. Peter denies our Lord because the sufferings accompanied with following Messiah are too much for him to bear. If our great King is to bear the cross, then the people of the King are to bear that cross as well. Peter understood that truth and it was too much for him to bear. We know that this denial of Peter was not what characterized his life; rather Peter’s life was ultimately an example of true crucifixion as he bore the cross of Christ until his martyrdom. Peter’s life in many ways is the life of the church. Peter’s life is the life of infant Christianity. But Christianity cannot live in infancy. It must carry its cross until the end. It must press on to maturity. Brothers and sisters, this is also a reflection of our lives. We too have denied our Lord, if not in word, certainly in deed. We have at times taken the easier route, rather than the crucified route. We have looked out for our own interests, rather than the interest of others. We have loved ourselves; we have served ourselves first, rather than serving our families. We have preferred the bounty of this world’s goods first, rather than the simple bread of life. Our crucified Lord tells us to live as I have lived and then you will be raised as I will be raised.
Finally, in the midst of all these denial and betrayals, is the three-fold declaration of innocence by Pilate. Pilate, three times declares that Messiah is innocent. Pilate knows this man does not deserve death. He is puzzled why his own nation and religious leaders want him dead. He asks our Lord, what have you done? Jesus answers: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Pilate thought that Jesus was so innocent that he could not see what kind of threat Jesus was to the Jewish leaders. Indeed our Lord was innocent because he was no insurrectionist, but make no mistake, Our Lord will overthrow the wicked governments of this world. When Jesus says: My kingdom is not of this world, He does not mean that His kingdom has nothing to do with this world. He means that the authority and power of this kingdom does not derive from an earthly ruler, rather it comes from heaven. Jesus’ cross is a threat to this world system that denies the cross. Jesus’ cross is a threat to the wicked leaders of the first century and the wicked leaders of the 21st century. Jesus’ cross is a threat to this world, because if they do not embrace the message of the cross, they too will be traitors like Judas who kissed the Son falsely and thus brought God’s fierce wrath upon him. Brothers and sisters, the message of the cross is the message of faithfulness to the Lord. To believe in the message of the cross is to believe in the crucified Lord. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.