Friday, April 02, 2010
Our church here in Uganda always spends Good Friday morning meditating on the seven "words", phrases really, that the Gospels record Jesus speaking from the cross. It is a smaller service, more somber, the faithful come, but the crowds do not. And I always find something new in the way that people from a culture closer to Jesus' read and understand his words. Today, for instance, when Jesus speaks to John about his mother, the preacher drew a picture of how a boy might bring a friend from school to his home, to eat, and then later if that friend came alone (without the real son of the home) he'd be welcomed by the parents based on the friendship with the son. So Jesus was showing us that those he calls friends are now part of his family, and welcome, even in his absence. Or the phrase "I thirst" . . . was very analogous to the first words anyone would say coming in from a morning's work in the garden. We're on the equator. We sweat. Everyone leads lives that involve physical exertion. So to hear Jesus say the same thing makes sense to them, it is a word of his humanity, of his connection. He is not over-spiritualized into someone inaccessible or opaque, rather he is portrayed as he was, a flesh-and-blood man in agony, pouring sweat, and feeling real thirst. Seeing Jesus through the eyes of others makes him more real, to us.