Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday. Good-bye.

We call it Good Friday. Is that because we get off work early to pack for a weekend away at the lake or the beach or the mountains if it’s warm enough?

More than 2000 years ago, a handful of Jewish leaders in Roman-occupied Jerusalem considered this a good day because it meant they were getting rid of a troublemaker. “Good riddance,” they might have quipped in Hebrew to the man who had turned their world upside down.

However, Good Friday was intended to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth on a Roman cross. He hung there, the Bible tells us, in our place. He took our mistakes and failures and sins upon himself and paid for them with his very blood. He died there. His friends retrieved his body, wrapped it in linen strips and laid it in a stone tomb.

That day the Passover holiday was upon them and they had to get Jesus out of the way. It was their tradition – not an uncaring ritual, but one that dictated immediate burial of the dead.

So they did.

And that should make it good.

I know that without his death I would die, but I still find it hard to call this day Good Friday. Crucifixion is anything but good. I’d rather call it Black Friday – a day when the Light of Life went out and Satan sang in triumph. But “Black Friday” is taken. It’s the day after Thanksgiving when American retailers raise their profits out of the red pit of loss – another misguided moniker.

Maybe it’s easier for modern man to consider this a good day because we know the rest of the story. But Jesus’ family and followers did not. He was gone. Dead. Buried. They were alone. They didn’t know he was the ultimate Passover Lamb sacrificed in their place. Nor did they know he would live again.

Tonight and tomorrow imagine what it would have been like to have everything you believed in destroyed. Imagine finding the answer to life only to have it ripped from your fingers and nailed to a cross. Imagine turning your back on the stone-cold tomb and walking away wondering if you would be next.


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