In 2012 Greg and Sharon asked a number of parishhioners form Holy Trinity Oakleigh to contribute to a set of artwork and reflections inspired by Matthew's account of Good Friday. Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday ended up being included as well. The result was this set of art installations, paintings and reflections.

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Matthew's Good Friday

  • Matthew 01 Palm Sunday
    Matthew 01 Palm Sunday

    Palm Sunday Reflection
    by Samantha Browne

    Jesus he knows;
    What is to happen to him!
    Through the golden gate.
    A trial before Pilate.
    His death on a hill of thieves.

    A dark path waiting!
    As the people celebrate,
    Palms above their head.
    They shout out and sing for joy,
    But they do not quite know why.

    The donkey waits,
    Where Jesus said he would be.
    To carry the King!
    To his destiny, this day.
    The Saviour of our world . 

    The disciples,
    His friends tagged along!
    Not getting the clue.
    Their journey’s end is near.
    Their time with Jesus is short.  

    There in the township
    Men asked, “Who is this man?” 
    And ask questions.
    Will he be a peacemaker?
    Or be a troublemaker?

    You have heard his tail!
    Who do you think that he is?
    Lord of creation?
    Or just another mad man?
    Are you a doubter or friend?  

    They sing Hosanna
    To the Son of King David.
    Blessed is he who –
    Comes in the name of the Lord
    Hosanna in the highest!
    Hosanna in the highest!

  • Matthew 02 Palm Sunday
    Matthew 02 Palm Sunday
  • Matthew 03 Maundy Thursday
    Matthew 03 Maundy Thursday

    Matthew 26:36-46

    Jesus Prays in Gethsemane

    36 Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” 37 He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. 38 He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”  39 He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”  40 Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? 41 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”  42 Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away[a] unless I drink it, your will be done.” 43 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.  44 So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

  • Matthew 04 Maundy Thursday
    Matthew 04 Maundy Thursday


    It is impossible to live in this world without suffering. I don’t need to give any examples about what types of sufferings exist in the world because as I even mention the word “suffering” there is a churn in your stomach, the brokenness of your heart felt again, the tears building up in your eyes…it is not hard to find the anguish of suffering just below the surface in all of us. How then are we to react when we know we are faced with imminent suffering? This is the story of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. Knowing he is going to face unimaginable suffering he retreats with Peter, James and John – he tells his friends “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with me.”The physical distress is obvious as he falls to ground and seeks the Father and  prays “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me…” – But what is this “cup of suffering” that He is asking to be taken away? Surely it includes the physical pain of being beaten, a crown of thorns forced onto his head and nailed into a cross – Jesus too felt physical pain in the same way that we do. But the cup of suffering was not just physical… this cup – this is the cup that contains all our guilt and the anger and judgment of God. It is the cup that holds the first lie we ever told, the cup that holds our spiteful words and thoughts, it’s the cup that holds our envy of others, it’s the cup that holds our greed – it’s the cup that holds our rebellion from God.

    This cup is truly the only cup of suffering – holding not just our sins, but all the sins of mankind. Imagine the taste of all the evil of the world, the bitterness and trying to swallow from that cup – it would be like trying to swallow a cup of nails, shards of glass and screws that are red hot from all the pain burning up in it.

    Not only is he confronted with this cup of suffering but he is confronted with it alone – his friends are asleep and soon He will face not God’s blessing but his wrath – while standing alone.

    But despite because confronted with this cup of suffering – Jesus with willing arms and hands chooses to take this cup of suffering upon himself – his pray does not finish with “take this cup away from me…” – it finishes with “…yet, I want your will, not mine.” Despite being grieved and anguished and having never sinned himself – never experienced the guilt of sin – never experienced even a moment of consuming selfishness – never pretended something was ok to do when it wasn’t -  he willingly chooses to take all of these sins upon himself.

    We look upon this cup of suffering now with confliction – we are broken knowing the suffering and monstrosity of our own sins and his innocence – the red burning fire of God’s judgement placed upon Him for us. But this is not the finale of this cup – what was a cup of suffering has become a cup of joy – a cup that is not filled with bitterness but is a cup filled with God’s forgiveness; a cup filled with never feeling alone again, a cup that reminds us that there will be a time without any sufferings – a time where sin has no impact in our lives. We rejoice because it is this cup that will allow us to return to the green garden, where we will be in perfect relationship with our Father.

    This cup is on offer to all of us – if only we are willing to sip from it.

  • Matthew 05 Maunday Thursday
    Matthew 05 Maunday Thursday

    Jesus is arrested

    Matthew 26:47-56

    Reflection for meditation on the painting

    Who was Judas, and what did he want of Jesus?  Judas was zealous in his desire for the Kingdom of God to come.  However, he did not understand God’s plans & purposes, and sought to force God’s hand.  Judas believed Jesus was the Messiah, and wanted him to bring in the Kingdom of God politically by force.  To do this he went to the leading priests and offered to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, and then looked for an opportunity to betray him.  That opportunity came in the garden in Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed for strength for what was to come.  Jesus responds to Judas with love & grace, calling him friend, and allowing him to betray him with his kiss.  When one of the disciples acted violently towards their captors, Jesus response is telling –violence begets violence.  As Judas listens in Jesus tells them all that thousands of angels would come and protect him if he asked, but that if he did this, God’s plans and purposes in him and for him would not be fulfilled.  The angels are held back by the Word of God from Isaiah 53:10-12 ‘But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and fill him with grief.  Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs.  He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s plan will prosper in his hands.  When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied.  And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear their sins.  I will give him the honours of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death.  He was counted among those who were sinners.  He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners.’ 

    Isn’t there a little of Judas in all of us, or the disciple with the sword?  Do we not try and make Jesus into the sort of Messiah that we want to see, or who fits with our preconceptions of how God works in the world?  How often do we come wanting what we think is right, and pushing for it violently; maybe not with clubs &  swords; but with angry words, malicious slander or gossip to bring another down.  Is this not to betray our Lord with a kiss?

  • Matthew 06
    Matthew 06

    Matthew 26:57-68  Jesus before the Council


    Denial, Deception, and Self Deception contrasts with Serenity

    How often do we fall into the sin of trying to tell God what to do or manipulate Him?

    What is the frustration when He does not co-operate? Do we tear out our hair if not our clothes?

    The High Priest and Council and accusers felt that frustration. They wanted Jesus, the crowd pleasing healer to fit their image. Only by denying His miracles could they maintain their self deception and perception that He was not the Messiah foretold by the Prophets.

    Jesus was the miracle worker who helped the socially and physically “unclean” The Temple leaders wanted him ‘off their patch”. He would tarnish their image and give their faith, culture and traditions a bad name.


    Peter’s usual reflex action response to situations had to be curtailed or “denied”. Peter, on his own, having followed Jesus with his crowd of captors from a safe distance, sat with the soldiers to “wait to see how it would all end” ”. How would “What” end?

    (No mates around to stage a Mission Impossible-style rescue!) How foreign this must have felt for the ‘Action man’ Peter to be sitting and waiting. What were his thoughts? However awkward he felt sitting there with his Master’s captors, he chose to “sit tight to be there on the spot”

  • Matthew 07
    Matthew 07

    Reflection on Matthew 26:69-75 by Angela Footit

    Peter Denies Jesus

    “What have I done?” exclaimed Peter to himself as the realization of his betrayal settles on him.   Those words of denial that no matter how hard he tries can never be crammed back into his mouth!   Those eternal words now etched into his very being; engraved upon his heart with the blood of his best friend and saviour.  Words that seemed innocent enough at the time; just a careless throwaway line really; made real as betrayal and given depth by the proud boasting crow of the morning rooster.

    “Jesus knew this would happen.  He knew and he tried to warn me.  Damn my ears.  Damn my pride and arrogance.  Lord and master, forgive me.  I weep a pool of tears in contempt of those denying words.”

    Peters torment and anguish is clear.  He weeps the deep heavy sobs of a man convicted of his sins and humbly laying them before God.  Peter ‘the Rock upon which I will build my church’ (Matthew 16:18) has crumbled into a pile of rubble and all of nature weeps with him. 

    Just a few hours ago Peter had taken an oath saying “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” (Matt 26:35)  So easily that oath has been forgotten when fear takes hold.

    Fear has an amazing power over us.  It makes us do and say things that we never in our wildest dreams thought possible.   Peter said “I don’t know what you’re talking about” , “I don’t even know the man” and “A curse on me if I’m lying – I don’t know the man!”  But in his heart he is thinking “I’m afraid and confused”, “I don’t know what to do” and “My world is falling apart”. 

    Without the key of the resurrection Peter doesn’t understand what is happening and he is frightened.  He knows Jesus to be the Messiah and have all the power of heaven at his command yet Jesus was just led away by his enemies without even a fight.  Like a lamb to the slaughter.  WHAT IS GOING ON?  He follows Jesus, eager to see what is going to happen next.  But when met with even the slightest resistance; a servant girl; the adrenalin takes over, he panics, forgets his vow and gives in to his sinful nature and lies.

    How much like Peter are we?  How many times have we denied knowing Christ in thought, word or deed, or in what we have failed to do?  Our tears merge with Peters in the pool of regret and all of creation weeps with us.   Fortunately, God doesn’t give up on Peter, or us. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4) God still uses Peter as a mighty figure to build his church upon; and he can use us to.   No matter how many pieces we are broken into even if we are seemingly ground to dust, he can use us for good.  God is our “Mighty Rock” (Psalm 94:22) who will not crumble.  Give your fear to God.  He is scared of nothing.  He will take your fear and wipe away your tears.  Trust him who has proven time and time again that he is so utterly worthy of our trust.


    Forgive me, dear Lord, for my lack of faith.  Help me not to be like Peter in this story.  Help me to give my fears over to you; to leave them at the foot of the cross and have faith in your love.  I regret so much of what I have done in my life; but most of all I regret not following you more closely.  Lord, take my broken body and wipe away my tears.  Renew my heart.  Fill it with trust and turn my eyes upon you.  Help me to stand strong against sin and temptation, relying on your strength; not my own.  For you are the “Mighty Rock”; the great “I am”.  My Lord, my Saviour, and my friend!   Amen.

  • Matthew 08
    Matthew 08

    Reflection       “Judas hangs himself.”

    Reading:         Matthew 27:1-10  

    Have you ever pushed at something, and found that what you have started gathers momentum you never sought or expected, till it ends up achieving the very opposite of what you intended?  Judas wasn’t evil, just misguided.  He sought to push Jesus into political Messiah-ship, and when Jesus rejected this route, because it was not God’s plan for him, Judas realized what his betraying kiss had begun, and he was devastated.  He realized that what he had set in motion now led to Jesus being condemned to die, and this was never what he intended to happen.  Shame & guilt brought him back to the leading priests, trying to give them back the 30 pieces of silver, his payment for betrayal.  In Zechariah 11, there was another payment of 30 pieces of silver.  A prophet was called by God to play the evil & worthless shepherd, who not only leads his sheep to slaughter, instead of protecting them, but who does the slaughtering himself.  He had two staffs, named favour and unity; signs of God’s presence and protection; and he broke them in two before the leaders of the people.  They knew the Lord was speaking to them through these actions, and he felt compelled by the Lord to ask for his wages, for whatever he was worth in his betrayal of the sheep, and they gave him 30 pieces of silver.  Judas betrayed the great shepherd of the sheep for the same amount, and he despaired, and in that despair, he took his life; desolate, inconsolable and alone. 

    But there are two deaths, two men who hang from a tree.  One death reveals despair; while the other death stands as a sign of hope and promise.  Judas set in motion the events which lead to Jesus arrest & ultimate death.  However, God’s plan was to restore both favour and unity through the sacrificial death of this man who was innocent.

     In the story of Joseph, and the betrayal of his 11 brothers that led him into Egypt, his brothers come to Joseph to ask his forgiveness for what they did to him.  He answers “Don’t be afraid of me.  Am I God, to judge and punish you?  As far as I am concerned, God turned into good what you meant for evil.  He brought me to the high position I have today so I could save the lives of many people.” 

    In this same way, what Judas put into motion to force God’s hand, God knew and planned to bring about his own purposes.  Jesus death restored the possibility of the favour of God, and the unity of all peoples; saving the lives of many people. 

    Things can get out of control, a vicious word; a bitter letter sent in anger; a damaged silence in a relationship that cannot be reconciled.  These things lead us to regret at what we have done by our thoughts, words & actions.  All of us live with regrets, and disappointment in ourselves.  Judas despaired, and desolate, inconsolable and alone, he took his life, instead of taking his regret and remorse to his loving heavenly Father, and turning it into repentance.  Because of Jesus’ death we have hope and a promise of forgiveness.  What regret should you bring to your loving heavenly Father today, to repent of the damage, and receive his ready forgiveness, given because of the death of Jesus?

  • Matthew 09
    Matthew 09

    Reflection: “Jesus before Pilate”

    Reading:         Matthew 27:11-26

    Reflection on painting  - Jane Browne

    Jesus, Pilate and the crowd

    Jesus - I am the Son of God. My kingdom is not of this world. I have ruled in heaven with my father since the dawn of time. I thirst for Justice, offering the gift of living water, to refresh, renew and marks them as being reborn.

    I am the way to peace and reconciliation. True peace not upheld by the sword of war or the tyranny of fear; but by the sacrifice of my life for theirs. It is the price that must be paid for truth and justice and to please my father. If only they understood.

    Pilate - I am the emperor’s strong hand. My rule is of Judea; this hot, dusty and rebellious back water of the Empire. I hunger for glory and power. I offer stability, rationality. A pragmatic man, I'll do what needs to be done to keep peace, here and at home.

    I am the peacekeeper, bringing order to a chaotic people. Peace is not given, it is hard won. If justice is compromised, truth is stretch, then that is a small price. If only they understood!

    Jesus - I weep for my people, offered life in abundance, those who revelled in my kingship just days ago; now drown. Weighed down by the greed, selfishness and arrogance that hardens their hearts. Their eyes do not see and their ears not hear. Their hearts are like stone. They sink in the mire of daily life, ground to dirt by the hardship and injustice of life without Joy, without grace.

    Pilate - This crowd are like children, cheering one day jeering the next. They grasp at any glimmer of hope that they might be set free from Roman rule. The fools don't see that no mere man can overthrow the Roman Empire. It is an idea, an ideal, greater than any mortal living or dead. And if they fight it, they will drown; washed away in the torrent that is the Empire.

    Jesus - But I feel for this man, not one without sin, he’s arrogant with a hunger for power. He just doesn’t understand. He believes he controls my fate but he cannot do what is right: convention; expectations; love of power; and his own vanity bind him. The script is rit and he has no more ability to change the outcome, than fly to the moon. But even he can be saved if he would accept the forgiveness my father is offering - a mere drop of blood!

    Pilate - But this man; is different. I look into his eyes and I see concern not fear; pity not disgust; resolution not anger; peace not conflict; forgiveness, not revenge; understanding not confusion.

    Who is he that he can stand before me his only hope and not beg for mercy? He’s not like the fools in the crowd and yet he is one of them. He is not like the priest’s and teachers but he is wise. He’s strong but there is strength in him and gentleness I’ve not seen in any man, let alone the condemned.

    Does he not know I have the authority to free him? What am I to do? Is he a god, an omen from Jupiter? No man has ever caused me to doubt myself, my judgement.

    But now the crowd are on the verge of revolt. They disgust me! He’s done nothing deserving of death. Maybe, if I flog him, they’ll be appeased; but then those vile priests just whip them up again. Even Herod runs from this circus!

    I wash my hands of them all!

    The third voice - This story has a myriad of characters, a quixotic crowd, manipulative Pharisees and Pilate a very modern and dangerous man. In the name of “peace”, and at the expense of “truth”, Pilate embraced “tolerance”. Tolerance as an absolute good, but when in the name of tolerance and peace we allow: just a little injustice, a little lie; compassion, freedom, trust and justice become the real victims. People seeking freedom, become “queue jumpers” and we tolerate their incarceration for years with out trial or a voice.

    Like us Pilate knew what he was doing, torn by guilt he sort absolution by washing his hands of the business. “Will all great Neptune's ocean wash this blood clean from my hand?“ Jesus didn’t come to tolerate, but to expose injustice. Rather than let blood and guilt condemned, to let it wash us clean. To teach compassion that softens our hardened hearts.

  • Matthew 10
    Matthew 10

    Reflection : “The Soldiers Mock Jesus.”

    Reading:         Matthew 27:27-31

    Reflection on painting :   Judy Pobke & Lisa Eames

    The blackness of doom still hangs over the world while ‘the Regiment’ continues to sit in the seats under the big tent of the circus. 

    The words of the prophet Isaiah cries out loudly.  Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word.    He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.   And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open His mouth.  ‘The Suffering Servant’!   Prophecy was being fulfilled.

     It seems a bit of a farce that some of the governor’s soldiers and the entire regiment were there to guard, ridicule and belittle Jesus.  Jesus wore the robe of humiliation.  Though His body was weak and vulnerable, Jesus' mind stayed strong with determination to fulfill what God intended.   In the Arena, he was made to look like a clown; the butt of ‘the Regiment’s’ joke.

    The sting of the verbal assault, mockery and unkind words must have felt like a vindictive slap in the face to the true ‘King of the Jews’.  Silenced by the deep physical pain: who could have worn the crown of thorns as long as Jesus did?  No other human being could have endured the piercing from the thorns as they pressed into His head, and the amount of blood that flowed from His wounds.  But the physical pain was nothing to the feeling of despair at being alone.  This was the pain that pierced the heart.  As we look on, it makes one weep inwardly with Jesus, as His strength only came from God.  He did not show or give them the satisfaction of knowing His  depth pain, even though he must have wanted so desperately to cry buckets of tears.  What must it have been like to experience such unmerciful pain; physical, emotional and spiritual? Did it have to be done this way?  This was His question in the garden, and His answer was clear.  He could only do His Father’s will!

    Have you ever been one of those who, in the comfort of a large crowd; mock, or ridicule Jesus?  Are not all of us in the circus seats?  Maybe there were those in the battalion who looked on, and felt ashamed; perhaps the Centurion who was there at the last.  How will you show compassion to stop the words that cause the cruel humiliation that Jesus endured.?

    Jesus suffered in silence; alone separated from His mother, His brothers and His sisters; a reality all too familiar throughout His ministry.  Abandoned also by His closest friends, His disciples, he faces it all in an agony of loneliness.  Does he know that the worst is to come, that he will be abandoned by His Father as well as having to endure the cross?  

    It is as if all of us fill those seats in the arena of the big tent, every time we add to the mocking with our endless sins.  Yet, it was God’s will that this be His experience that we might experience the liberty and eternal life that His suffering brought for those who choose to recognize and submit to Jesus as the Son of God and King.  We must take that walk with Jesus all the way to the cross, through humiliation and mockery, that like the thieves at His right and His left we are given the right to choose salvation.

  • Matthew 11
    Matthew 11

    Reflection: “The crucifixion.”

    Reading:         Matthew 27:32-44

    Reflection on painting 6:                    Nisha Abrahams

    The crucifixion, dates back to the 6th Century BC, was the most gruesome, humiliating and public means of punishing a criminal. But when Jesus took this cup of suffering for us it was not the pain or the humiliation that caused His suffering but rather the burden that he had to carry on his shoulders- the burden of our sins. The sins all of humanity have committed & continue to commit, especially those sins you and I commit in our lives.

    Matthew 27: 32- 44 God opened me up to four things in this passage:

    • God using an ordinary man, Simon by name, as part of His plan for His glory,
    • the games that we play with God,
    • the times when we mock Him
    • the times that we don’t trust Him.

    Ephesians 2:10 “God has made us what we are and in union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do”. Simon of Cyrene was one such vessel who was called to carry the cross on behalf of Jesus. I believe that I was called by God to do this painting for Easter. Today God is calling each of us to be used as his vessel. Are we listening to it and responding?

    Verse 35 says, “After they nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice.” Today we can play dice by looking for wisdom in the wrong places; without reference to God.  People can be disguised shepherds, misleading us, and sometimes working against God.  John 10:11- 12 “I am the Good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. But when the hired man who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees a wolf coming, he leaves the sheep and runs away; so the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them”.  Who are the disguised shepherds in our lives that keep us from the true shepherd?

    There are times in our lives when we get frustrated and mock/ question God’s power. In times of difficulty, we ask him where he is and why he is not doing anything about the problems that we want resolved. Like the soldiers and the people in verse 42 who scoffed him and asked, “He saved others?” But have we done our part when we ask Him? John 15 talks about the true Vine. If we remain in him we will bear fruit. He also tells us that “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it.” Just like the dry branch that will be cut and thrown into the fire at the end of time, the weeds will also be gathered and burnt. Matthew 13: 30 “Let the wheat and the weeds both grow together until harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to pull up the weeds first, tie them in bundles and burn them, and then to gather in the wheat and put it in my barn.”  What are the weeds in your life that need to be removed for real growth and maturity?

    There have also been times when we haven’t trusted God or his ways. We are in darkness when we don’t trust His ways because we think the ways that we take are right but we end up going down the wrong road of life. Jesus trusted God, but not to save him; rather that his plans would bring great blessing & peace.  Luke 1: 78 & 79 says, “Our God is merciful and tender. He will cause the bright dawn of salvation to rise on us and to shine from heaven on all those who live in the dark shadow of death, to guide our steps into the path of peace.”  Jesus death brings this salvation & peace to us.  He consoles us, “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” “The world will make you suffer but be brave I have defeated the world.” 

  • Matthew 12
    Matthew 12

    Reflection:      “The Death of Jesus”

    Reading:         Matthew 27:45-56

    Reflection on painting :         Diane Ting

    This is the defining moment in time and defines our time.  While the hourglass depicts the marking of our human time with sand, the celestial sundial uses light and measures God’s appointed time.   While time is finite, in this event it becomes the eternal infinite.  It was 3.00 in the afternoon.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? It was almost as if our time starts now, for in his being forsaken by God, we are accepted, our entry point into eternity starts from this point and this time.  Jesus shouted out and gave up his spirit, and at that moment everything changed forever, for we are no longer constrained by a life that must end in death, for in his death in time, he had overcome the finality of death for us. 

    Two Mary’s watch from a distance: Mary his own precious mother, and Mary Magdalene.   Did Mary, his mother, remember how precious it was to hold him in her arms so long ago?  Did she clutch at her own empty arms, holding the loss and pain in, as she watched and heard his cry of desolation and anguish?  What did Mary Magdalene remember as she looked on? Everyone knows what is going to happen.  It is a one way journey and it cannot be prevented.    And yet, in both, there is an acceptance and a peace.  Did they remember what he told them would happen?  Did they believe? 

    Others look on, and what they feel is astounding.  The earth shook, and rocks split apart at that moment when death came.  Roman soldiers don’t frighten easy, but they were terrified by this earthquake, and its timing, and all that happened.  For them, crucifixion was stock standard, and nothing out of the ordinary, and yet….and yet….this was so out of the ordinary that they declared “This man truly was the Son of God!”

    Do we recognize what God has done for us in this moment?  In his death, we now have fullness of life.  Do we live each day, every day, knowing what Jesus did on this Friday, this Good Friday?  Do we seek to live in his light?

  • Matthew 13
    Matthew 13

    “The burial of Jesus”

    Reading:         Matthew 27:57-65

    Reflection on painting:          Greg & Sharon Footit

    Deuteronomy tells us ‘If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and then hanged on a tree, the body must never remain on the tree overnight.  You must bury the body that same day, for anyone hanging on a tree is cursed of God.’  Paul tells us that ‘Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law.  When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.’ 

    Genesis tells us that to protect the fruit of the tree of life, God banished human beings from the Garden of Eden.  But from this very moment he set in place his plans to bring about the opportunity to taste of the fruit of the tree of life, and live forever.  That plan culminated in the coming of Jesus, for Jesus is God’s tree of life.   And now, Jesus, God’s tree of life is dead and buried!  It was Joseph, a secret disciple, who wanted to show his respect, who made sure Jesus was appropriately shrouded and buried.  The disciples had all fled, leaving only Mary Magdalene & the other Mary, who sat nearby watching.  What were they watching for?    Did they remember, as the leading priests did, that Jesus promised that after three days, he would be raised from the dead? 

    There is a ‘blackness’ that all of us experience in life in times of despair and desolation.  It may be in the diagnosis of incurable disease in a loved one; the death of a longed for child; the loss of a soul-mate who has become one with you, and who, without, you feel incomplete.  In the quiet and darkness, what do you wait for?  Such blackness can make us question the reality of God, and the possibility of a future. 

    The writer of Psalm 94 was in despair.  He writes ‘When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer’ and Psalm 62 reminds us ‘I wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.  He alone is my rock and my salvation…trust him at all times-pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.’ 

    I like to think that Mary Magdalene & the other Mary waited quietly before God, knowing their hope was in him.  My prayer for you today is that when blackness comes, and we question God’s reality. or his love, we can all receive comfort & renewed hope as we wait; our hope in God as both rock and salvation; no matter how dark the situation we face.