Wounded for Whom?
A Meditation for Good Friday 2008
by Sally Wisner Ott
Lectionary texts for Good Friday A: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Psalm 22; Hebrews 10:16-25; John 18:1-19:42
I am struck by the power of Jesus being wounded for me, for you, for us. Upon reading Isaiah 53:5-6, a single word in jumped out at me: iniquity. Iniquity means "gross injustice; wickedness; sin."
These words from Isaiah are prophetic, but we might be tempted to believe they don't apply to us. We might ask why we would need to hear that our Savior "was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities. Gross injustice, wickedness and sin were realities in biblical times, but hasn't the human condition changed since then? We're good people, aren't we? We're trying hard to be the best that we can be for God, right?
Reflect with me on the following insight: that burying our heads in the sand can be a transgression, a sin, an iniquity. Jesus was crucified by an evil crowd. But in light of Good Friday, I'm haunted by the fact that Jesus was also crucified by good people who said and did nothing.
I think of my own work. I was caught off guard about 15 years ago to learn that I would be appointed to a Church & Community Ministry (CCM) Project in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "Why would this community need a missionary?" I wondered. All it took was an interview and an introduction to the community to convince me of the need. Lancaster is an urban area with human suffering such as violence, poverty, homelessness, hunger and despair.
The challenge of the cross is to do anything but bury our heads in the sand when human suffering rears its ugly head. The challenge of the cross is to speak up against evil.
My mission, LUMINA in Lancaster, has as its vision statement, "Christians in partnership; responding to human need in the city and beyond . . . Creating just and healthy communities to the glory of God." For us, this means that if we accept anything short of what's just and healthy, we are missing the mark.
My parents and other significant adults who helped to raise me taught me right from wrong. Even so, sometimes I "miss the mark" when it comes to speaking out against injustice. There are times in the here and now when I participate in Jesus' crucifixion by remaining silent, by doing or saying nothing.
Here is where the scripture verses from Isaiah break in as a word of grace for me. I am reminded me that Jesus "took the rap" for us. (Of course, grace is not a license to do as we please. It does not mean anything goes. Rather, grace is a word of accountability.)
One of my favorite choruses is "Jesu tawa pano," which means, "Jesus, we are here." I think of it as a "discipleship chorus." Sometimes my prayers are self-centered: I'm thinking of what I want Jesus to do for me or for someone I love. This chorus reminds me that what Jesus can do for me is but a portion of Christian discipleship. The "rest of the story" is what I am here to do for him.
Sometimes I wish being Christian meant being immune to human suffering. Of course, that's not what it means. Rather, being Christian heightens our sensitivity as it calls us to embrace human suffering.
God sent Jesus to make the ultimate sacrifice on the cross. He was wounded . . . for whom? For me, for you, for us. What, then, is the sacrifice that we are to make?
In closing, let me encourage you to take the time to read the complete text from Isaiah for Good Friday (52:13-53:12) and then to sing or say:
(Other stanzas may be sung replacing Jesus and Jesus with: Savior, Master, Spirit)
Sally Wisner Ott is a church and community worker serving with LUMINA in Lancaster, PA.
Date posted: Mar 20, 2008