Good Friday Homily

The prophet Isaiah is one of those prophets of doom standing in the big cities with “The End is Near” signs. “Doom is coming!” “Doom is coming!” The kind of prophet parents pass by with their children and say: “Children, pay no attention to the funny man!”

Isaiah is the woest prophet of all.

Isaiah says: Woe to the sinful nation. Woe to the drunks. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. Woe to the proud who are wise in their own eyes. Woe to Congressmen who pass unjust laws and to judges who defend them. Woe to those who try to hide their plans from God. Woe to rebellious children. It’s Isaiah’s way of speech. Over twenty times he announces doom, destruction, punishment, sorrow and pain.[1]

Then, as if something from heaven falls on the head of the prophet, he changes the key to his tune. His minor chords become titanic major chords of wild celebration. But don’t worry: the prophet is not changing his mind. It’s just that he sees something new in the future. He is so lucid, that he plays with his words. While many of Isaiah’s lines begin with “Woe” which is the Hebrew Oi, his first line in Isaiah 55 starts with Come, which is from the same Hebrew root pronounced Hoi. In Church History, we learn that a letter can make a difference in how we understand Jesus, in the Bible, a letter can make a difference between doom and delight; war and wine; hell and hospitality.

And just two short chapters after the most detailed picture of Jesus found in Isaiah 53, the prophet turns his attention to the compassion of this suffering servant who does not offer woe to his people, but an invitation to taste of bread and wine, water and milk. By the way, do not insult the host by attempting to pay him for his generosity. Don’t bring money! At the Lord’s Table, there is only laughter, rich food, and everlasting friendship.

If any of you here have never tasted of God’s invitation to this table, if you are here out of curiosity over this crucifixion business Christians talk about, well, here it is: the cross is an invitation to come and taste the goodness of God.

And before we begin to take too much pride in our free meal, remember what it cost our Lord of glory. Yes, he gives us bread, but remember his body was broken; yes, he gives us wine, but remember his blood was poured; yes, he gives us water, but remember that when the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, at once there came out blood and water; yes, he gives us milk and every good thing, but remember he abandoned his riches in glory to dress himself in human flesh to live a perfect life and to be hung on a torture-saturated cross.

Yes, our woes have turned into an invitation to a glorious feast because the woes of the Prophet have been poured on the Person of Christ and now, we shall live forever in the house of the Lord.

Come! Come! Come! The fast is ending. The invitations have been sent! On Sunday, we celebrate the ends of all our woes!

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen!

[1] Peter Leithart homily.

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