Anxiety Redeemed: Good Friday from A Christian Perspective

Anxiety Redeemed: Good Friday from A Christian Perspective
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Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes

The Reverend Dr. Morar Murray-Hayes is the Minister of Maple Grove United Church, and is a member of the Interfaith Councill of Halton. A chatty extrovert with a conversational preaching style, a multi-tasker who is a “multi-worrier” when it comes to caring about people’s problems, and a leader who treasures teaming with the lay people in her church, Morar says that at Maple Grove she has experienced “a deeper level of ministry than I thought possible.” Anyone who has personally received Morar’s deeply compassionate caring and wise counsel will testify to what an inspirational, healing and encouraging ministry it is.

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Some people seem able to go through life calmly, appearing relaxed. Others worry about everything.

Anxiety seems to become, for some, an insurmountable obstacle. Uncertainty about the future can cause us to make unwise, even hurtful decisions.

I think Judas may have been such a man: overcome by anxiety and uneasiness about the future. He couldn’t stand by and wait for whatever would happen to happen. The suspense was too much for him to bear. John 18.1-11

Perhaps you have been there.

When he betrayed Jesus to the soldiers with a kiss, he was ending his own life before he ever took his own life. He was so overcome by apprehension, he just couldn’t stand it, so he created the moment of crisis, took an action that would precipitate the future for Jesus, the future for the world, and his own death.

Peter too was overwhelmed by fear. John 18.12-27 Perhaps Simon Peter remembered Jesus naming him Peter, which means ‘rock’ and saying to him,

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16.18)

Whatever would he do with this ragtag bunch of followers without Jesus? How would he fill those sandals? He tried to escape his relationship with Jesus — denying him three times out of fear for his safety, confusion and apprehension about the future.

Perhaps you have been there — fearful about coping when a boss retires, a parent dies, the one you have counted on is no longer there.

These two men are men for our time: betraying what is most sacred in order to avoid pain.

One sought to protect himself by seeking an alliance with power — desperate to get control of his own life but in the process he lost his life — and Jesus had known this about Judas.

And one sought to protect himself by running away — escaping the powers that be and avoiding the suspense of what would happen to Jesus, and the responsibility of carrying on — and Jesus had known this about Peter.

One moment of choice is all that separated Judas and Peter. One would be reviled for all time and the other would go on to become the rock upon whom the church would be built and the role model for 265 popes since.

Although Peter repented and Judas killed himself, they weren’t different in Jesus’ eyes. He loved them both: they were both worthy of his love. There is no evidence that he chastised either one of them. Apart from letting them know that he knew them better than they knew themselves, he treated them in the same way he did all his followers.

He loved Peter. He loved Judas.

He called them; he taught them; he transformed them with love.

  • On this costliest of days, I truly believe that he would have suffered and died just for Peter.
  • On this costliest of days, I truly believe that he would have suffered and died just for Judas.

We mark this Good Friday by listening to the story, and putting ourselves into the story — knowing that Jesus died for all. But as we place ourselves into this part of the story, identifying with the anxiety of Peter and of Judas, we have to know that Jesus didn’t just die for all, he died for each — for each one of them and for each one of us — and to know that, as we listen to the rest of the Good Friday story, you and I are of utmost importance to Jesus and therefore to God. We were there. John 18.28-19.42

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