I’ve never understood why today is called Good Friday.
(Except of course that it’s a bank holiday and in 2 days time I get to eat half my body weight in chocolate – oh yeah!)
What’s ‘good’ about an innocent man being betrayed by his friend, put through a sham trial, brutally tortured, publicly humiliated, then killed in the most agonising way imaginable?
I always thought it should be called Bad Friday or Black Friday or anything that didn’t seem to celebrate something so cruel.
But it’s called Good Friday and I’ve never understood it, until this year when I’ve started to see Jesus and the cross in a slightly new light.
Christians often teach about Jesus dying to put right the bad things that we do, and I do believe that (well as much as I believe anything – see previous post on faith 50 shades of grey). It’s amazing to know that we can be totally forgiven and we don’t have to live in guilt or shame any more.
But recently I’ve been wondering, what if Jesus’ death did something else as well, something even bigger and better than that?
Because there’s a lot of stuff wrong with the world that isn’t anybody’s fault.
Children are born with severe disabilities that cause them daily pain and limitations. People get sick. Environmental disasters cause widespread devastation. Death makes unexpected and untimely visits.
I’ve never connected these things up with the cross, because they’re not things I can really say sorry for.
But I’ve been wondering recently whether Jesus died for these things just as much as he died for our individual mess-ups.
And if he did, then maybe he also died for the things I see in my life and the world around me that aren’t quite as they should be (perhaps it’s just me who has this sense that things aren’t how they’re meant to be, but it does seem to be a fairly common feeling among people I talk to – we seem to have an inbuilt sense of justice where death, destruction, disease, etc always feel like intruders, like they don’t really belong).
So maybe he wanted to put those things right too.
I’ve always heard teaching about Jesus dying for our sins (i.e. the bad things we’ve done) and I’m very grateful that he did.
But what if he also died for disease? For disabilities? For death? For the destruction caused by natural disasters? For hunger? For poverty? For injustice?
I don’t think this is a new idea, and there’s probably plenty of people reading this and wondering why I’ve taken so long to catch on (and plenty of others wondering why I’m bothering with some guy who lived and died 2,000 years ago)
I remember once reading something in a book by Steve Chalke where he suggested that we couldn’t survive if we saw God face-to-face because he carries all the suffering of the world and to look on his face and see all that suffering in one go would be too terrible for us to cope with.
I can’t really get my head around all that suffering but it’s an image that’s stuck with me over the years.
I guess it means that when we feel abandoned, betrayed, lost, defeated, in pain, or whatever else we’re going through, we know there’s someone who loves us who’s gone through that same thing, willingly and on our behalf. Someone who’s carried it so we don’t have to.
“A man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand…
It was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us…
By his wounds we are made whole.”
The ‘being made whole’ bit might not happen how or when we expect it to, but I believe there’s somebody working to rescue and redeem what looks like a lost cause.
And I suppose that might be worth calling ‘good’.