Death, Darkness, and “Good Friday”

Today is Good Friday.  But that is a really bad name, for a very terrible day. “Good Friday” is only a day that is only good in hindsight, and even then it’s obscured through darkness, pain and difficulty.

Today is the day that Jesus entered fully into our darkness to provide a way out. Today is the day the light of the world was snuffed out. Today is the day that darkness seemed to win. Today is the day that the Messiah died.

It’s today that when we look upon Jesus and his sacrifice we realize how unable we are to make our lives work as we would want. We see our struggle for coherence, meaning, and power. We see in Jesus’ naked body nailed to the cross our own betrayals of friends and family. We see how our desire to create empires of meaning and worth are empty, and filled with dust and dirt. We ask ourselves “what have we become”?

Bruce Springsteen once sang,

Fear’s a powerful thing, baby
It can turn your heart black you can trust
It’ll take your God filled soul
And fill it with devils and dust

And on this day so many years ago – the disciples hearts were filled with devils and dust. Their God-filled soul, seemed empty, as they watched the Son of God die on a piece of wood. The point is that today is not a “good” day.

For three days doubt, darkness and death reign.

So today is not an easy day. Today is not a good day. Today is though a necessary day.

Today, like on a day many years ago Jesus’ body was broken, like bread, so that we might be made whole.  Jesus poured his life out, like wine, as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave up his life so that we might find it.

This is the message of today: life, breath, blood and brokenness all mix together so that in the end death might be beaten. But on this day we remember that before death was beaten, it seemed as if it had won. Before darkness lost its final battle, the light of the world was lost. So today we remember that before light and love burst forth…they went through death and darkness…

Death, Darkness, and the Fallacy of “Good” Friday

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Today is Good Friday.  A day that is only good in hindsight, and even then it’s obscured through darkness, pain and difficulty.

Today is the day that Jesus entered fully into our darkness to provide a way out. It’s today that when we look upon Jesus and his sacrifice we realize how unable we are to make our lives work as we would want. We see our struggle for coherence, meaning, and power. We see in Jesus’ naked body nailed to the cross our own betrayals of friends and family. We see how our desire to create empires of meaning and worth are empty, and filled with dust and dirt. We ask ourselves “what have we become”?  We look at our lives in light of the sacrifice of Jesus, and we are moved to silence. We see God die and ask ourselves why, and when does the darkness break? But the darkness won’t break for another three days.

For three days doubt, darkness and death reign.

So today is not an easy day. Today is not a good day. Today is though a necessary day.

Today, like on a day many years ago Jesus’ body was broken, like bread, so that we might be made whole.  Jesus poured his life out, like wine, as a sacrifice for our sins. Jesus gave up his life so that we might find it.

This is the message of today: life, breath, blood and brokenness all mix together so that in the end death might be beaten. But on this day we remember that before death was beaten, it seemed as if it had won. Before darkness lost its final battle, the light of the world was lost. So today we remember that before light and love burst forth…they went through death and darkness…

Good Friday Passage and Post

Read this account from Mark 15. Read it slowly, and meditatively. While you read remember while this day is called Good Friday it wouldn’t be good for another three days…

Mark 15 (The Message)

At dawn’s first light, the high priests, with the religious leaders and scholars, arranged a conference with the entire Jewish Council. After tying Jesus securely, they took him out and presented him to Pilate.

Pilate asked him, “Are you the ‘King of the Jews’?” He answered, “If you say so.” The high priests let loose a barrage of accusations.

Pilate asked again, “Aren’t you going to answer anything? That’s quite a list of accusations.” Still, he said nothing. Pilate was impressed, really impressed.

It was a custom at the Feast to release a prisoner, anyone the people asked for. There was one prisoner called Barabbas, locked up with the insurrectionists who had committed murder during the uprising against Rome. As the crowd came up and began to present its petition for him to release a prisoner, Pilate anticipated them: “Do you want me to release the King of the Jews to you?” Pilate knew by this time that it was through sheer spite that the high priests had turned Jesus over to him.

But the high priests by then had worked up the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas. Pilate came back, “So what do I do with this man you call King of the Jews?”

They yelled, “Nail him to a cross!”

Pilate objected, “But for what crime?”

But they yelled all the louder, “Nail him to a cross!”

Pilate gave the crowd what it wanted, set Barabbas free and turned Jesus over for whipping and crucifixion.

The soldiers took Jesus into the palace (called Praetorium) and called together the entire brigade. They dressed him up in purple and put a crown plaited from a thornbush on his head. Then they began their mockery: “Bravo, King of the Jews!” They banged on his head with a club, spit on him, and knelt down in mock worship. After they had had their fun, they took off the purple cape and put his own clothes back on him. Then they marched out to nail him to the cross.

There was a man walking by, coming from work, Simon from Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. They made him carry Jesus’ cross.

The soldiers brought Jesus to Golgotha, meaning “Skull Hill.” They offered him a mild painkiller (wine mixed with myrrh), but he wouldn’t take it. And they nailed him to the cross. They divided up his clothes and threw dice to see who would get them.

They nailed him up at nine o’clock in the morning. The charge against him—the king of the Jews—was printed on a poster. Along with him, they crucified two criminals, one to his right, the other to his left. People passing along the road jeered, shaking their heads in mock lament: “You bragged that you could tear down the Temple and then rebuild it in three days—so show us your stuff! Save yourself! If you’re really God’s Son, come down from that cross!”

The high priests, along with the religion scholars, were right there mixing it up with the rest of them, having a great time poking fun at him: “He saved others—but he can’t save himself! Messiah, is he? King of Israel? Then let him climb down from that cross. We’ll all become believers then!” Even the men crucified alongside him joined in the mockery.

At noon the sky became extremely dark. The darkness lasted three hours. At three o’clock, Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Some of the bystanders who heard him said, “Listen, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran off, soaked a sponge in sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”

But Jesus, with a loud cry, gave his last breath. At that moment the Temple curtain ripped right down the middle. When the Roman captain standing guard in front of him saw that he had quit breathing, he said, “This has to be the Son of God!”