Friday, April 10, 2009

"Good" Friday, Needed Friday, Beloved Friday

John 18-19

Good Friday 2009

So now we come to it. We come to the day in year in which above all other days we call good. This day, our savior has died for us. This day God has shown us his love for us. This day we know who God is and what God has done. When I come to this day every year, my mind starts whirling around questions that I have to ponder every single year. I come with questions because simple reason seems to fail all too easily when it comes figuring out what Jesus is doing on this “good” day. It can seem silly to think of this day as “good.” What’s good about hearing a story of a man being beaten and executed by an instrument of death that was designed to be cruel and inhumane? What’s good about hearing a story of a man that was abandoned by all his friends and family? What’s good about hearing a story of a man who was betrayed by one of the very people who said he loved him and would follow him? Rather, it seems as if this day is more of a day filled with sorrow, grief, and pain. Surely, a “good” day would not be filled with this sadness.

We spend much of our lives thinking that good days are those days when everything seems to be going your way. In a good day, things have gone our way. Our work went by quickly without thought yet the quality of the results were high. In a good day, we’ve spent wonderful time with family and friends sharing stories and laughing at one another’s jokes. I remember growing up as a kid in elementary school thinking that good days were the days that I had fun and was able to do my school work well. Bad days were the days where it felt like everyone was picking on me and where I kept on getting into trouble with my teachers. However, “good” does not always equal happy or joyous. “Good” sometimes means much more than that to mean what is right or what is needed. But what is right or needed about Good Friday where death and suffering are the order for the day, where, at least for me, all seems darker and quieter? Yet, this day above all the other days and times in the year is alone called “good.”

When we hear this story about Jesus’ betrayal and crucifixion, we are hearing the story of someone who was not just another man being beaten and killed for crimes he may or may not have committed. We hear the story of what God has come to do for us. We see the lengths and the depths to which God will go, because God chooses us and God will not abandon us. Forever, God will be our God, and we will be God’s people. The goodness of this story and the goodness of this day is the clear and shining revelation of what God does for us – the people who forsake God and just as much as the Romans and Jews beat Jesus and nailed him to cross every time we sin trying to build ourselves or other things up as our gods. Jesus’ death on the cross is a death for all sins of all times and places. If we could do better, he would not have to die. Instead, Jesus’ death is the proclamation that God will not abandon us to our sin and death. In this great act of love, Jesus redeems all of creation, turning it into something it could not be by itself.

This redemption is what Christ does on the cross. He turns that which causes death into that which gives us life. This is what makes this a “good” day. Jesus redeems creation and turns it into something new. This is why our glory is in the cross. Before Jesus’ death, it was only an instrument of cruel torture and death, but instead, Jesus’ turns it into an instrument of life, because through the cross we are united with God for all of eternity and raised into new life. Through the cross, Jesus comes to us and seeks us out even as we, like the disciples, flee and desert him leaving him alone to die. Through the cross, this day, which by all reason should simply be called “Bad Friday,” becomes THE good day of the year where Jesus, the Son of Father, who lives and reigns for all eternity as one in the Trinity, does for us what we desperately need and shows the never-ending abundance of God’s mercy and love. This is our glory, because this is what God has done for us – given us new life. This is Good Friday – not a happy day, but the day that is right and needed.

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