King of Contradictions

By Sarah Cornwell

Good Friday

A Reading from the Gospel of John 13:36-38 

36 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” 37 Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”


Good Friday appears to be a day of great contradictions. It is the day our Lord was hung on a cross and died, yet it is the only day in our calendar year we name as “good.” The shame and grief of this day is really our hope and joy. The death that was becomes the life that is and is to come. For our morning reading, the Gospel of St. John tells us that Jesus’ chief apostle, Peter, the rock, will crumble, denying Jesus three times. For our evening gospel, we hear Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, two largely unknown men who had followed Jesus in secret, are the ones who stand by the cross and come forward to claim Christ’s body. The last shall be first and the first shall be last indeed.

As we gather today and stare up at that rugged cross, take a moment to reflect on how its simple design so rightly captures the seeming contradictions of the faith. The cross extends in opposing directions. It extends up to the north and down to the south. Its arms reach all the way to the east and to the west. On another plane, we know that Jesus went down to hell and ascended up to heaven. He reaches back through time to the very beginning and he reaches forward through time to its very end. He is at the center of it all, the Christ, true man and true God, the king of all contradictions. Jesus on the cross is what reconciles all contradictions in himself and makes them one, a single truth for a world that mockingly asks, “What is truth?”, believing that truth isn’t real and God is dead.

Embrace the seeming contradictions of this day. Repent with St. Peter. Turn to the folly of the cross. Witness the death that leads to life. Stand with the least of Jesus’ followers as we come out of the shadows to claim him as our king. Keep watch at the grave and prepare in your hearts to rejoice in new life.

Sarah Cornwell is a laywoman and an associate of the Eastern Province of the Community of St. Mary. She and her husband have six children and they live in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

Christ Cathedral, Salina, Kan.
The Diocese of Kushtia – The (united) Church of Bangladesh


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