What Makes This Friday Good?
It's a good question, isn't it? Whatever got into the minds of the Church Fathers (and Mothers) who named the day of Christ's Crucifixion "Good Friday"?! How can a day filled with such injustice, torture, sadism, gore, and seemingly, waste be "good"?
If all we had was this day, it wouldn't be good. If all we had was the cross, we'd have an act of heroism, even altruism, by an outspoken first-century Palestinian Jewish prophet named Yeshua bar Joseph. His death would join all the others in the long line-up of would-be Messiahs killed for a cause too radical for their contemporaries. That wouldn't be good.
This Friday is good only because it doesn't stand alone. In fulfillment of ancient Jewish prophecy, Yeshua is the Suffering Servant of God written about in the Prophet Isaiah, Chapter 53. And, according to eyewitnesses, he didn't just die and be buried. Come Easter Sunday, he rose again from the grave, proving God's favor and vindication and indicating the great turning of the ages: Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! With his defeat of death, life begins to flow, seeping slowly, into our world. A great reversal begins: death will be killed off; sins will be covered; lives will be mended; the poor will be cared for; justice will be served--and a new heaven and a new earth will be coming. This is the beginning of new life. That's good.
I drove past the North Boulder Olde Stage Fire burn zone today. Right after that scary fire in early January, which burned nearly 3000 acres and threatened numerous homes, I rode my bike through the area. Blackened ground, charred landscape, smoky air filled my senses. It was devastating. Could life flourish here again? If so, how soon? Today, the burn zone is green with new growth--greener, in fact, than the unburned areas around it! What an illustration in nature of how life triumphs over death--and how out of the fires of suffering and devastation can come new life. That's good, too.
Good Friday is good because we have a God who refuses to dwell in a space remote from our pain and suffering. Our God gets messy with our sin, suffers for it, joins us in it, and refuses to let us go. Christ's outstretched arms on the cross are the divine embrace of us all, just as we are. That's really good.