When I was little, I would always ask people why today is called Good Friday, because there didn’t seem to be anything good about it to me. Of course, I was reassured that it was good because it’s the day where Jesus is hanged on a cross and dies for our sins, and without that one event in history we’d still be offering sacrifices or all be damned to hell. I was told by my Sunday School teachers plain and simple: Jesus died to save me, not even us, just me. I caused God to die.
My understanding of what happens (happened) today on Holy Friday has since become much more complicated, and I still don’t think it’s necessarily “good.” Holy? Yes. Good? No. A woman watching her son die because he spoke out against a corrupt civil culture, a corrupt government is not “good,” but holy. Men watching their teacher and friend die because he taught them a new way of thinking is not “good,” but holy. Women, who had spent hours with a man who treated them well and didn’t take them for granted, waiting to dress the body of this same man upon the finality of his death is not “good,” but holy. Yes, the miracle that occurs in the act of Jesus death is amazing, however you interpret it. But the actual death cannot be, in humanly terms, felt as anything less than excruciating and agonizing. For all of those who watch the Messiah, Jesus the Son of the Living God, die a slow and painful death on a cross again and again each year to remember this sacrifice, this obedience, this redemptive act it is not “good,” but holy. This tragically beautiful death is human and real to us. It’s not “good.” In fact, it’s horrible, but it isa holy mystery.
Easter is good. Eternal life is good. Sometimes during Lent clinging to that hope is the only thing that gets me from Maundy Thursday through to Jesus’ glorious resurrection and triumph over death at Easter. For now, though, the world rests in the damp, darkness of the tomb with the stone firmly in place.