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Good Friday, March 29, 2013

Today’s Reading | John 19:16b–30

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus between them. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.  Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’ ” Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four parts, one for each soldier. They also took his tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top. So they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill what the scripture says,

     “They divided my clothes among themselves,
          and for my clothing they cast lots.”

And that is what the soldiers did.

Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (NRSV)

Text for this reflection: John 19:23–24


After my father died, I found it terribly difficult to get rid of his clothes. I remember standing at his closet, staring at his clothes, remembering times when he wore a certain sport coat or tie. My dad was somewhat of a dapper dresser. His clothes had been important to him, and I suppose his love of clothes made the task of getting rid of those clothes even harder for me. I even remember one day, in the throes of grief, putting my nose up to one of his favorite sport coats, relishing in the scent of my dad that still remained.

The description of the soldiers, just having crucified Jesus, dividing his clothes, casting lots for his tunic, is a repugnant description. If you read the passage carefully you realize that Jesus was still alive when all of this was taking place. The soldiers’ actions speak to the fact that in order to have killed Jesus, they had to completely disconnect themselves from him and from the value of human life. I suspect they were also disconnected from themselves and from one another. We all know that this complete disconnection and disregard for human life has been repeated over and over again throughout history.

What happens next is Jesus issuing instruction, from the cross, to his closest loved ones—stay connected to one another. “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” As upsetting as the events of Good Friday are, the words of Jesus guide us. Care for one another. Stay connected. Love.


Be with me, O God, on this Good Friday, as I experience again the remembrance of your agony. Make it clear to me how I might be like the soldiers. Reconnect me to myself, to you, and to the power of love. Sustain me through the darkness of Holy Saturday, as I wait for the hope of resurrection. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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