What's So Good about Good Friday?
My relationship to this day has altered significantly over the years. But maybe that's okay? Maybe I can still find the "good" in a day like this?
What’s so “good” about Good Friday?
I confess, the allure of Good Friday has, over the past several years, faded for me.
Back in the days when I was a Christian heavily influenced by the variety known as “evangelicalism,” with its late-to-the-party theological ideas, and new-to-the-tradition concepts about sin and the cross and the Bible, I used to LOVE Good Friday.
Why? Well, I know it sounds kinda weird, but it’s because I was taught that God can’t stand me because of my sin (bad news).
But then I was taught that God provided a solution as a way to get around his own wrath (good news!).
And I was taught that the solution was blood sacrifices.
And even better, I was told that Jesus dying on a cross was the exact right kind of perfect blood sacrifice—sufficient not only to make it so God could be okay with ME, but also be okay with anyone who was lucky enough to be born into a time in history when “believing in Jesus” was a legitimate option for them.
I was told about how fortunate I was that I got to know the Truth. How blessed I was to be given the Grace of knowledge (ie, access to an oddly specific ideas about propitiation and justification and penal substitutionary atonement).
So Good Friday was good for ME because it meant that I got to have MY sins forgiven by God.
Although… to be clear… not because God actually forgave me. It’s more like, because God accepted the blood sacrifice of Jesus. So technically, Jesus paid off the Judge on my behalf. So in some strange way, I’m not actually or truly “forgiven,” it’s just that, God is now “satisfied.”
Kinda bizarre when you say it out loud, innit?
Which brings me back to: what’s so “good” about Good Friday if, as I now accept, there is no Wrath filled God demanding payment from finite, mortal, we-have-no-choice-in-the-matter “sinners?”
Well, I don’t have a full answer to that yet.
But for now, for today, here’s a few things I find good about the story of Jesus’ death on a cross.
Instead of arming his crew and retaliating with violence, Jesus disarmed his friends and chose a path of nonviolence. That’s pretty amazing.
In a world hyper focused on Self Love (looking at you, progressives), the notion of someone giving up their life for other people? You know, self-sacrificial love? I’m starting to remember just how important and revolutionary this is.
Even though Jesus felt abandoned (My God why have you forsaken me?), I know there’s no where a person could go to be outside of, or disconnected from, God and God’s love. Therefore, the cross is a story that—for me—points to the powerful truth that no matter how bad it gets, I will never not be fully loved by and held by God.
I don’t know if those three thoughts are equal to the one BIG one of, “thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross you can now be accepted by God and live forever in bliss,” but I’d rather have ideas/beliefs/concepts that are more grounded in what is real, true, and useful. Otherwise we’re just out here pretending. And pretending leads to captivity.
Whereas the truth?
That sh*t will set you free.
Happy Good Friday, everyone.
p.s. I took the photo above last weekend in Minneapolis, late at night when the snow was pouring down. I loved the way the moonlight reflected off the snow and created this ambient glow in the middle of the night. Insert some observation about how “even in the darkest of nights, there is always a light” or something like that.
Kinda bizarre when you say it out loud indeed! You nailed the summary of why I struggle with Good Friday - I didn't know I needed that - thank you :) Here's to not knowing the answers and continuing to wander on hopefully, thoughtfully and with some sh*t to set us free eh!
"..no matter how bad it gets, I will never not be fully loved by and held by God." To me, this is what is so great about Good Friday. Thank you, Colby.