Jesus is alone. Last night Jesus girded himself with a towel and told his followers that if they were to follow him they were to love one another.

Then he broke bread and shared wine, his body and blood. Gifts of love to sustain those whom he loved then and those whom he loves now.

The way of love then took us to the garden. We kept watch with him as the way before him was revealed.

From there came his arrest. The steps from the garden to the prison made, then trial, sentence and onto Golgotha. Each step costly along the way costly.

Those who said they would never leave him have fled they have taken a different path leaving Jesus alone. Alone to face his end.

There are all sorts of theological treaties and books about the cross, about what it means. 

Layers of meaning have accumulated down the centuries and yet for me it is all about love. That’s what makes this tragic day good.

In his life Jesus had preached and lived the way of love.

He had spent time with those on the outside.

He had embraced the unclean. 

He had loved the unlovable.

He had restored dignity to the despised.

He had spoken of and proclaimed forgiveness.

Along the way he had drawn people to him.

They had seen in him a love that called to their hearts.

Jesus shared their life and knew them.

He knew their denials and the anger beneath the surface.

He knew how evil could so easily take hold of another’s heart.

He knew this and that if the cycle of hatred, of anger, of evil, of wrath was ever to be broken it wouldn’t be broken by meeting like with like but by meeting it head on with love.

A love that would in the open arms of the cross embrace the darkness, the pain, the suffering. All of it embraced by love.

He knew that if a different way was to be opened up for those whom he loved to live then a seismic shift would have to take place.

From an early age we learn to fight.

We learn to stand up for ourselves, to take an eye for an eye.

To feel that cruelty should be met with a hangman’s noose.

We covet leaders who talk tough, their finger hovering over buttons of destruction.

Jesus knew this and showed his disciples another way. He came to realise that the only way to break this strangle hold on how to live was to walk a way of love, a walk that may lead to death. 

 And along the way he would show the way by wrapping a towel around his waist; a way of self-giving love in a meal to which all are welcome and now comes his sacrifice.

And I use that word sacrifice with care because don’t think it was a sacrifice to pay the price of sin as some describe it but to break through the cycle of evil and transfigure all sin through love.

To transfigure all sin through love and reveal that there is nothing or no one beyond this all-embracing love.

Yet for that to be true it meant his surrender to the life he knew.

It meant pain and isolation.

It meant death.

It meant him trusting and believing that the love he proclaimed and lived was stronger than death.

It meant trusting and believing, just as we will have to do one day in the face of the reality of death

because for Jesus to be truly like us then his death was like any other.

And like us his trust and belief were mingled with the finality of what was happening to his body.

So, we hear words of forsakenness yet for love to triumph he had to die. And that is where the cord of love that binds these three days together has led us today.

Sometimes a love song is one of excitement and joy, at other times a love song is one of just being there with the beloved.

That’s where we are this afternoon in this love story even though we know the end of the story we come to kiss, to bow before, to revere this cross, a cross for all people, for all time.

A cross that reveals the way of love.