The name Good Friday bothered me for a while after I learned what it was all about. It offended my sensibilities to call such a horrendous day “good.”
Today, Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the cross. To be blunt, we remember the day humanity murdered God. And not in a swift, sanitary, humane way, either. Crucifixion is absolutely horrific. It’s a nightmarish way to kill someone. And we inflicted it on the only truly good man ever to live.
For a long time, I was preoccupied by our guilt. I focused on our sins, our actions that sent Jesus to the cross.
Then, I saw something else.
Jesus didn’t want to go to the cross. Not at all. He prayed not to go. But He was ready to do it if it were the only way. Soon after that prayer, armed men came to arrest Him. Peter, one of His closest followers, tried to take of the guys’ heads off with his sword.
Jesus stopped him and healed the man Peter had attacked.
Think about that. He had just begged His Father to let Him skip the cross. One of His followers then attacked His captors. A lesser man would have run. But Jesus apparently had His answer.
He went willingly.
Even when the men who had Him arrested taunted Him, challenging Him to get off the cross and prove that He was the Messiah, He stayed. Mind you, He could have blasted the cross to splinters with his mind and called down lightning on all the unbelievers. He didn’t.
That’s the “good” of Good Friday: that Jesus chose the cross for us.
We live in a culture that avoids discomfort at all costs. We see boredom, inconvenience, and pain as great evils. I don’t want that perspective.
For the past several years, I’ve fasted from the evening of Good Friday until Easter Sunday. This year, I’ll do the same, but I’ll be thinking about it differently. Before, I would think about the weight of our sin every time my stomach growled.
This year, it will be less for guilt and more for worship.
This year, the discomfort will be a reminder to say “thank you” to the God who paid the cost of mercy.
For the past two years, I’ve done most of my writing for the year in one 46-day span.
In 2009, I was pondering what to give up for Lent, the period leading up to Easter. Some Christians fast in order to get ready for Easter. In the churches I’ve attended, people usually give up something they like as a sacrifice of sorts. That year, there were several things I could have given up: sweets, video games, what have you.
Instead, I decided to take something up. My sacrifice would be my time and effort. I decided to blog every day.
Lent starts today. We’re having a service tonight at my church to kick it off.
Consider this post my virtual ashes.