One of the perks of my ministry is that I sometimes meet people who know they are not good. They haven’t led good lives and they know it. They are bowed under the heavy consequences of their pasts. Such people are a gift to an evangelist! The bane of the evangelist’s existence is the person who considers themselves good. These folks are not so delusional as to think they are perfect but do labour under the delusion they are good. They compare themselves to my friends who are all too aware they are not good and see themselves as ‘relatively good’.
There is an old joke defining neurosis as “building sandcastles in the air” and psychosis as “living in them.” The ‘relatively’ good people live in their delusion and so miss the reality of the Kingdom of God breaking through! The tough job of the evangelist is to smash this illusion.
I am grateful that, as an evangelist, I am but a bit player in this illusion smashing task. God, the Holy Trinity, is the chief evangelist, and smashes the illusion of goodness at the cross.
About halfway through the Gospel of Mark we hear the Father’s voice “This is my Son, whom I love.” From this point Jesus ‘sets his face like a flint for Jerusalem’ and the cross that lies before him. The Father’s voice affirms the goodness of Jesus which we heard of at the commencement of his ministry “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Jesus himself says “There is none good but God” while fully aware of his own divinity.
It was because there is none who are good that Jesus became obedient unto death. He went to the cross paying a debt he did not owe for those who owe a debt they could not pay.
On the Mount of Olives Jesus prayed fervently “if there is another way…” and “not my will but your will…” The only one who was good, the only one who could, rose in obedience and handed himself over. No one could take this ‘good’ one’s life he must lay it down.
The secondary evangelist is the Church and by hallowing this Friday as Good declares the illusion of personal goodness as smashed. So often church folk declare we are an Easter people and this is true but Easter itself has no power except for the cross on which the Good One died.
“There is none righteous no not one!”, apart from the Good One.