Before the eggs, presents, candy, brunches, new clothes, bonnets, and bunnies Easter was celebrated over a span of time. The darkest day of this season was the Friday before Easter—oddly known as Good Friday. Unlike Black Friday—this day didn’t kick off a major event—it put a screeching halt to the season. It is the day that the world admits what happened to Jesus, is what has always happened when God gets close to people.
When we lived in a small town in Missouri, each year area churches came together to one building and had a “Good Friday” worship service in the afternoon. Many of the businesses closed for an hour and people came to this large worship. It was not a celebration but a time to reflect, pray, and read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion. Times have changed.
Douglas John Hall suggests that Jesus’ crucifixion was the result of getting close to humans. “…the cross of Jesus Christ is the end-consequence of the divine determination to be ‘with us’ (Emmanuel) unreservedly.” Notice what Hall means, getting close to people can cause great suffering, but God believes humans are worth this cost.
Jesus came close to humans and touched them. They touched him and came close as well. So close that Jesus died one of the most cruel, inhumane, and humiliating deaths known to humans. The Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus, “humiliated himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8). I know that your Bible’s use “humbled” but that makes it sound nicer—doesn’t it? Whoever wrote the book to the Hebrew Christians wrote that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Heb 12:2).
Today is a day that Christians celebrate the greatest act of humiliation and shame displayed toward God in the flesh, also known as Jesus.
He did it because He loves all of us…and He believes that it will change some lives. Jesus did not make this choice because we are wretched, but because somehow God believes we are worth the sacrifice.
He came so close that…
- Some killed him because he confronted them over their hypocrisy. However, they later had a chance to make things right.
- One ruler who had the power to end the humiliation washed his hands—he chose not to get involved. Somebody felt sorry for him a few decades later and wrote “The Acts of Pilate,” trying to make him look spiritual.
- Some stood by paralyzed with fear, trauma, and confusion. They later were given the courage to preach about Jesus and they touched many lives.
- One who happened to be walking by was forced to carry his cross. We don’t know what happened to him, but later his kids and wife were active in the Roman church.
- Some abandoned him. They later were given the chance to come back, changed their lives, and became his biggest advocates.
- One crusty old soldier called him innocent and the son of God. We don’t know what happened to him but later, a lot of soldiers decided to follow Jesus.
- Some stood by helplessly and watched him die. They buried him. Later they were the first to see him alive and these women preached the first Easter sermon.
- One criminal, crucified next to him, confessed Jesus was innocent and asked to be remembered. He went to heaven.
All humanity stands at the cross. The crucifixion of Jesus is considered by historians to be true, factual, and historical. We all know it happened. Good Friday is real, whether we remember it or not. It is close, and we have the option to look Jesus in the eyes and believe that He felt we are worth dying for. It stops the action…until the resurrection.
The resurrection…that requires faith. That will forever be proven by the lives of Jesus’ followers. However, you can’t have Easter without Good Friday—there is no resurrection without crucifixion. The resurrection keeps the story moving.
The cross changes people. It leads us to hope in the resurrection. It doesn’t matter why we come to the cross. It doesn’t matter how we leave. It only matters who we become and what we do after Easter. Easter is not the end of the line, the season, or a holiday—it continues the story. It makes Monday “Good Monday,” and every day afterward.
What will your Monday be?