reflections

how can this be good?

Today is Good Friday. Here are some of the things that happened that day, all those many years ago:

One of Jesus’ closest friends, someone whom he had invested three solid years of his life in, betrayed him. That man decided that 30 pieces of silver were more important to him than Jesus was.

The justice system served its selfish leaders rather than truth and justice. The very people who knew the rules and enforced the rules broke those rules because doing so would benefit themselves. They abused their power. Injustice prevailed.

The leaders that God appointed, those who were to lead the people to him, turned their back on God. They refused to listen to him because he did not serve their self-preservation instincts.

On Good Friday…

One of Jesus’ best friends — a man who shared a special closeness to Jesus — was too ashamed of him to acknowledge that he even knew him, much less was a best friend. He was too afraid to stand up for his friend and turned from him when Jesus most needed help.

Jesus was beaten with a cat of nine tails, a torture instrument that that shredded his back and sides, exposing bones, deep tissue and organs beneath.

God’s people chose injustice and lies. They would rather have anything, anyone, except Jesus. They would rather have anything, anyone, except Truth and Grace.

A judge, the man who had the power to decide Jesus’ fate, chose to please the crowds instead of stand for the truth and justice. He knew what was right and chose instead to give into what others wanted because he was afraid.

On Good Friday…

After Jesus was beaten, nearly to death, he was held before the court and mocked. He’s a king, they said, let’s give him the royal treatment. They placed a robe on his lacerated back, compounding the pain. They shoved thorns, shaped into a crown, into his skull. They beat his face and spit on him.

Then Jesus — in his nearly dead state — was asked to carry a wooden beam up a hill to the place where he was crucified. As he walked, the crowds stared and mocked. The people who just days before had claimed him as their own, rejected him, calling him a fool. They despised him without cause.

On Good Friday…

Jesus was laid on the cross, with nails driven into his hands and feet. Naked and exposed, he was hung in the air for all to see, for all to gape, for all to mock. Besides the pain in his hands and feet, his raw back brushed against the coarse wooden beam each time he pushed up for a breath.

Jesus was crucified between two thieves, common criminals who had done wrong. One of these men was so filled with hate that even in his humiliated and pained and guilty state, he mocked Jesus and challenged his identity and authority.

On Good Friday…

Jesus’ friends deserted him. His mother, John and a handful of others were all who would stand with him at the cross. The rest had abandoned him, watching only from a distance, if at all.

Jesus released his mom into John’s care. Because she was a widow and he was the oldest son, now she had no one. Jesus told John to take his place; his role as her son was now over.

On Good Friday…

Jesus died, drowning in his own bodily fluid, the result of crucifixion.

Jesus was pierced on his side to confirm his death and removed from the cross. He was buried before the sun went down.

On Good Friday…

Jesus, his disciples and those that followed him experienced the hardest and worst day of their life. This was the day when it was all over. This movement that was supposed to end in joy and peace and the establishment of God’s Kingdom, ended in death — and not just any death, a cruel and humiliating death, one of injustice and lies.

On Good Friday…

The story was over. Darkness had won.

—–

My friend Gretchen says that you have to go through death in order to experience the resurrection. Most Christians, she says, skip to the happy part, the Sunday morning when everything was all better. But she intentionally leads her congregation through the depths of agony on Good Friday when death and evil reigned. She experiences the utter destruction of all that was good. It is deep and dark weekend for her and her congregation, just like it was for Jesus’ followers all those years ago. But that’s what makes the resurrection all the more astonishing and miraculous and joyful.

We have to go through death in order to experience resurrection.

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