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Come be my King and Reign in me: Meditations on Friday of Holy Pascha

April 14, 2023

My beloved, we have finally arrived to the day of Great Friday, this holy and most precious of days where we truly see love manifested before us. We see love manifest before us because of the scenes that are depicted and the things that unfold in today’s events. My beloved, I want to bring to your attention three very specific icons that the Orthodox Church uses. The first one is the icon of ‘The Bridegroom.’ It’s the one where the Man of Sorrows, our Savior Jesus Christ, has the crown of thorns on His head. They have mockingly placed on Him a scarlet robe and He is holding a reed in His hand. The soldiers bow before Him and they mock Him and treat Him as if He were some sort of fake King. They have a good laugh at His expense. The Church calls this icon ‘The Bridegroom.’ The Bridegroom is the One who has a mangled body that is just whipped and beaten, spat upon, mocked and He is dressed in a fake robe. A crown of thorns is placed on His head, drops of blood flow down on His face and He is holding a reed as if it were a scepter. My beloved, this is precisely what He wore on the day when He married His bride, the Church, where He proposed to you and to me. This is what He wore on this great day where He fulfilled all that He wanted to fulfill for the sake of His beloved, His bride.

 

The second icon that I want to bring to your attention is that of the crucified Lord Jesus. When we look up on the cross, we see the body of our Savior that is hung up on the wood. Now there are many who look at this and turn away in shame or even in disgust, because what they see is a criminal. What they see is a man who is punished by the authorities. Whether He was punished rightfully they do not know, but they claim that He is punished nonetheless because only those deserving of punishment are crucified. And so some pity Him, others think He deserves it and still others consider Him a victim. We don’t see any of those things. When we look up at the cross, we do not see a Man who is a victim. We see victory, we see Him who is victorious. On the twelfth hour of today’s paschal prayers, the chanters will sing the psalm that reads, “Your Throne, O God, is forever and ever.” Why do we sing this? Why do we speak of His throne? Because this is what we believe the cross is. This is where the King reigns mightily. This is where we see His glory. His kingdom has arrived. How do we know that His Kingdom has arrived? Because of all of creation’s response when the Creator sits on His throne and He breathes His last breath. The earth shakes, the wind rebels. Everyone rises, even the dead. All of those things happen because all of creation recognizes the King. Do not be tempted, my beloved, to look at Him with eyes that are filled with despair. Don’t look at Him with pity. Rather recognize your King, recognize the glory that is found in that humility. Recognize how He has borne our oppressions for the sake of saving us. Recognize that in His divine economy, this was the cup that was presented to Him by His father, and He embraced it for you and me. We see glory, we see power, we see Him as King. He is truly victorious. When we look at the cross, we have hope while others turn away. We see love while others see acts of hatred towards a man. When we look at the cross, we see our Savior while others simply don’t understand why we see all of those things.

 

The last icon I want to bring to your attention is the icon of the burial of our Lord Jesus Christ. Oftentimes it is called “Extreme Humility” because Him who is life was willing to humble Himself to the point of embracing that which is completely foreign to Him. He embraced death, while death was the one thing that was completely alien to Him. He could not ever die: He is the Immortal, the Alpha and the Omega, Him who has no end and yet the Only Begotten Son, the Eternal Word of God, the Logos who was incarnate of our sakes was willing to even taste death. The Uncontainable was willing to be contained and buried, placed inside a tomb for your sake and for mine. This extreme humility is what led to the completion of our salvation. This extreme

 

humility is what led Him to be able to go down into Hades and save those who were righteous. This was His way of facing our enemy. The enemy would not present himself to Him and so He came to him. The enemy ruled over His children, and so He came to where His children were bound, were slaves, sick, and dying. He entered into the reality of fallen humanity and He came face to face with death in His extreme humility. As soon as He came face to face with death, He conquered it. He overcame it. He destroyed it.

 

This is what we celebrate today, my beloved, our Bridegroom, the Lover of our souls who proposed to us on this day, our King who sits on His throne, who is victorious in the greatest of mysteries of the cross. We recognize Him as Sovereign, we recognize Him as Lord of all things and today we celebrate Him who in His extreme humility was willing to face our enemy for us, was willing to conquer death so that He can set us free. As we pray our prayers today and as we remember Him who is King who did all of these things for us, let us cry out from the heart and let our prayer be, “Lord, please, as you sat on Your throne on Golgotha, come and claim Your throne in my heart, reign in me as king, O my Saviour.

 

To God be all glory now and forever and unto the ages of all ages, Amen.

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