Behold the triumph of the cross. . .
Good Friday. Churches across the globe spent the evening commemorating the death of our Savior in their own uniquely meaningful ways.
I have to say though that some celebrations are bothering me a bit. It’s somewhat traditional to have a somber gathering on Good Friday in order to set it against the bright Easter celebrations.
But what bothers me is that some churches have taken somber and turned it into morbid and, in a few cases, frightening.
Yes, the death of Jesus was a dark, bloody, violent event. And I think we should acknowledge that fact. But I wonder if we’ve missed the point of Good Friday.
There’s a song that’s become something of a Good Friday staple among some churches this year. Here’s the lyric:
Oh my soul, Oh my Jesus.
Judas sold you for thirty,
I’d have done it for less.
Oh my soul, Oh my Savior.
Peter denied you three times,
I have denied you more.
As the nails went in,
I was standing right there,
as you breathed your last,
I shook my head and I cried.
Oh my God, what have we done,
we have destroyed your Son.
And, depending on the church, you might see scenes from Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ or other similarly violent depictions of crucifixion.
But why must we revel in such guilt? Wasn’t the fact that King Jesus died enough to absolve us of this shame?
I’m speculating here, but perhaps it’s because, as can be seen in the lyric above, we need to remind ourselves of the guilt that we bear in his death. The bloodier and more disturbing the reminder, the more vividly we will sense the sting of guilt. Lest we ever forget just how sinful we are.
But is that the point of Good Friday? King Jesus died, not at our hands, but at the hands of that which destroys all of us: sin. The enemy isn’t you or me, but the sin in us that lashes out and attempts to destroy any good that it encounters, especially the greatest good—Jesus himself.
The point of Good Friday is that Jesus had had enough of what sin was doing to us, and since we didn’t have the capacity or even the knowledge to figure out the plight that we were in—let alone the ability to escape from it—he stepped in and, in an act of incredible and irrational love, let sin destroy him.
What is Good Friday about?
It’s about love. As Jesus himself said, “No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.”
Jesus loved so powerfully, so vastly, so deeply, that he was willing to die than to see his friends (and that includes you and me) remain enslaved by the destructive power of sin.
I know Good Friday was yesterday, but as we’re still in the midst of reflecting on Jesus’s death, let’s focus not on the bloody spectacle, but on the love that motivated him to go to the cross.
Love conquers all. In the cross we see love in its most unfiltered expression. That is the triumph of the cross. Good Friday is a celebration because it reminds us that love will not be stopped, not even by death. Good Friday serves to remind us of our King’s love, not of our guilt. He doesn’t want us to feel guilty. He wants us to love him back.