(photo credit eclatdusoleil)
It's a contradiction, really, to speak of Good Friday as good. It is, after all, the day that Jesus died, and we don't generally think of death as a good thing. When's the last time you heard someone jumping for joy after a loved one died? Probably never. When someone dies, our first thoughts aren't usually, "Good! I'm so glad!"
Sometimes I think we Christians brush over Jesus' death. When it comes to Easter, we sing songs about the resurrection and proclaim gladly, "Up from the Grave He Arose!" because that's what happened. That's the end of the story. But in order for the resurrection to be possible, the death had to occur.
Jesus had to die.
And his death was real.
There's a story in Luke 24 about a couple of Jesus' followers. They were headed home from Jerusalem after witnessing the death of their beloved teacher, and as they walked, their grief was palpable. When a stranger on the road asked why they were so sad, they told him about Jesus, and they said, "We had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel." Did you catch that? They said that they had hoped. Past tense. They weren't hoping anymore because when Jesus died, their hope died with him. I'm sure that the grief was unbearable. Their leader, the one that they had trusted in and hoped in and believed in had died. And they were left alone.
How is it possible that God could die? It goes against everything that we know to be true about him. He is the immortal, unchangeable, king of all creation, all-powerful, unchanging God. And yet, in the span of a few hours one Friday morning, he laid all of that aside and died.
It is, I think, in his death, that we see how human Jesus really was. God doesn't die. People do.
All of these things must have been swirling madly in the minds of the people who knew and loved Jesus. They would never walk or talk with him again. They wouldn't share another meal with him or settle in to hear one of his stories. Maybe they were angry. Maybe they felt betrayed. Maybe they thought that everything they had believed in was a lie.
I don't know everything they felt, but I know how it feels to lose someone you love. To be struck with the awful finality of their parting. To realize that you have hugged them for the last time. To say good-bye.
They had hoped that he would be their Savior.
For those three days between Friday and Sunday, they grieved. They cried. They mourned.
Because he was gone.
And he was gone because of their sin. Because of my sin. Because of your sin. His death was necessary to cancel out everything that is ugly and evil and wrong in this world. And that is exactly what he did. He canceled it all out. In that moment, finally, justice was served.
And that is why Good Friday is so good. Because on that day, God offered himself as the perfect sacrifice, the only sacrifice that would do. And it is by that sacrifice that we are healed. That we are purified. That we are able to draw near to God.
And that, sweet friends, is a good thing.
Until next time, grace and peace.