by Mollie James-Vickery
Then Jesus, knowing all that was to happen to him, came forward and asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replied, “I am he.” —John 18: 4–5a
On Good Friday we remember the betrayal, the darkness, the depth of sacrifice God made for us. We call it “good,” for without this dark chapter in our redemption story, we could not have the joy of resurrection — of our restoration with our Creator.
In John’s account of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, we see a model for how to weather our own dark days. When life’s tumultuous seas begin tossing our tiny boat, foamy waves crashing over the deck, do you cut loose and set the most direct course out of the storm, or do you trust your anchor to hold you fast?
In this passage of John, we see both scenarios. When the storm arrives in the form of Roman soldiers, Peter fixes his eyes on the horizon for the quickest way out. Sword drawn, Peter stands scrapping for some iota of control. Even though Jesus warned him what would happen, Peter was unprepared. He cuts loose and navigates out of his stormy seas as quickly as possible, denying his connection to Jesus. In fact, Peter practically disappears. We do not see him again until Jesus seeks him out after the resurrection.
In contrast, Jesus, the one who is in the eye of the storm, drops anchor. He knows it will hold even through the darkest hours because it is deeply embedded in truth.
From the moment the soldiers arrived asking for Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus steps forward saying, “I am he,” Jesus repeatedly appeals to the truth. While on trial with the high priest, he says, “I have said nothing in secret. . . . If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong.” To Pilate he says, “you say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.” The only words from Jesus are those that point to truth. When the storm grows fierce, Jesus anchors himself in the only thing that would not change on this day — God’s redemption story for us.
How does the remembrance of Good Friday give you hope as you weather your own storms? What foundational truths hold your anchor fast? How can you strengthen your anchorage and that of others?
‘Ainise Isama’u is president of United Women in Faith.
Children’s art is from the 2023 Prayer Guide.