Good Friday 2020 · 10 April 2020
Christ Carrying the Cross
by El Greco
This work is in the public domain.
I know today is Good Friday, but it is the worst of all the Holy Days.
I know why Good Friday is called Good Friday. It is the day commemorating Jesus dying on the cross. Which does not sound good at all. In fact, it sounds horrible. After all crucifixion was a torturous death perfected for its agony to the crucified. It is difficult to imagine hanging there in pain. Hurting to even take a breath. And then finally succumbing to asphyxiation and heart failure. Suffocating when there is plenty of air at hand. The sufferer is just not strong enough to lift himself to get the air he needs. That is an excruciating death. A death you would not wish on your worst enemy. And the Lord suffered that death. Not to mention the beating He had beforehand.
That beating and torture and death of Jesus is not actually why I think Good Friday is the worst of all Holy Days. I think Good Friday is the worst day of all because I helped put Jesus there.
As I read my Bible and ponder its truths, I realize more and more that I am the one who put Jesus on the cross. I and every person who ever lived did it together. But I realize that have personal responsibility for putting Him there. Which is of course mindboggling. But it is also true. This was brought home to me many years ago when I sat in the back of a semi-crowded Good Friday church service.
I was sitting in the back of the sanctuary when the preacher went through the scripture reading about Good Friday. He read about Jesus being arrested. He read about the Sanhedrin putting Jesus on trial. He read about Pilate and Herod interviewing Jesus. And he read about Pilate asking the crowd who to release at the feast, as was the custom. But this was not merely a reading. It was a reenactment of sorts. A call and response from Mark 15.
“What shall I do with this man you call The King of the Jews?
“Why? What evil has he done?”
“Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
I heard myself saying the words. I even shouted them the first time. “Crucify Him!” But I remember hanging my head in shame saying those same words again. “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.” It was then that I felt the truth that I had known so long. I had indeed been the cause of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Jesus died for me. It was personal. He paid my whole debt. He even said, “It is finished.” There is nothing I can ever do to repay Him. Which is the whole point. There was never anything we could ever do to earn God’s love. There is not anything we can do to repay the debt we owed. Jesus paid it all. And He just asks for obedience as a small pittance because He knows we can never do enough. Jesus paid the debt and we are free. Like I said. That is the whole point. Jesus was obedient unto death because we cannot be obedient at all. At least not without Him.
The good news is of course that Easter is coming. Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed. And by indeed, I mean in fact. History was made. But I think it ironic. The three biggest days in the whole history of the universe started with the worst day in history. Good Friday. After all, Good Friday would not be good at all without Easter. The resurrection happened. Good Friday would have no meaning without Easter. Which is what the preacher told us as we left oh so long ago. We needed to think about our own part in crucifying Jesus, but we needed to remember that Easter was coming.
I can only imagine what grief and sorry the Apostles and all the disciples were feeling on the first Good Friday. It was not at all good for them. Their teacher, leader, and friend had just been crucified. And before that, they had all abandoned him. They had fled when the Romans came to get Him. The next day and even the next, they must have cowered in fear wondering when the Romans were going to get them. Easter was on the way. They just did not know it.
It is fitting that the Apostles even missed Easter. At least in the beginning. They scoffed at the women who brought the news that Jesus had risen. They did not give the normal response we give now. Jesus is risen! He is risen indeed! Instead, they were indignant. Jesus is risen! You must be crazy. We watched them crucify him. Albeit, from a distance.
But Jesus had risen. And so Good Friday is the second best day in history. Even though it seems like the worst. Even though I still think it is the worst of all the Holy Days. After all, the Good in Good Friday is only Good because Easter is coming. It is only Good Friday because Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed.
© 2020 Michael T. Miyoshi
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