Good morning on this Good Friday.
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times.”
This clip comes from the 1970s movie version of the musical Godspell. Some of you might be familiar with this show. Based on the Gospel of Matthew, the musical takes a look at Jesus’ live in a little different set of ways. The writers use the gospel to play up the parables and the storyline.
This musical connects with me on a deep level. I don’t know how I can fully explain why I love Godspell so much but something in it struck me as a little girl and I have been devoted ever since. I include this particular song in today’s devotional for many reasons. First of all, it happens to be my favorite song from the show. Ever since I was a little girl, my dad and I have enjoyed singing this song together. About the time Jesus starts to really prepare the disciples for betrayal and death, he starts to wander off mentally a bit here and there. This song comes from a few of the women who realize this and want to go with him. Our scripture today speaks directly to this want of following Jesus everywhere.
But you know, Jesus knows otherwise. He knows that it will be hard to follow him. Some of us will betray him and deny him, much like some of his more devoted disciples like Peter. Some of us will turn on him and run from him. Some of us will be full of fear and go into hiding. And some of us will sing that we will follow beside him. I believe that there were still a few women disciples who stuck by him as he wandered alone…as he prayed in the garden…and as he carried the cross to his death spot and watched him in pain.
This song connects on that deeper level…what does it mean to have Jesus by your side even when in pain? Maybe that’s why this song moves me so.
I directed this show the summer after my freshman year in college. Something in me told me it needed to happen and it needed to happen now. Somehow I convinced an organization to front me the money for scripts and props and royalties. Somehow I put together a cast of dear friends and some random people. Somehow I convinced a band to get together (including my dad) and somehow my brothers agreed to do lighting and sound in a church that somehow caught the vision and helped me out.
And somehow people came to see the show and weep with us and worship with us and finally celebrate with us.
One of those people was my grandmother from South Carolina. I was thrilled that she was there and I think she was very proud of me. And then just 6 years later she would die on Good Friday. I can never remember the exact date of her death because it was just too significant for me that she died on Good Friday. The doctors had told her she wouldn’t live past Decemeber but she had things to do in the midst of pancreatic cancer. She had grandchildren to see and people to talk to and things to do before she passed. And then in her time, in her way, she was tired and the disease won on Good Friday. I remember so vividly that the world changed that day and Good Friday took on a whole other meaning for me. I was in my last year in seminary and the world changed yet again.
We remember Jesus dying today. We get the comfort of knowing that death won’t win but today we dwell a bit and offer up ourselves to go with…knowing we may not be able to…