Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ died on the cross. Worldwide Christians will hold services to remember His death and the events that led to it. We don’t celebrate Good Friday; we remember it reverently not because it glorifies death but because it points to the powerful reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
When Jesus Christ died by crucifixion, his disciples were shattered. In shock, they stood around not knowing what to make of what was happening. This was the “Son of God” as he claimed to be but right before their eyes, he was beaten to a pulp and now hanging on the cross! The Son of God dead!
What the disciples felt was probably much like what many Christians experienced when they saw the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France burning. It must have shaken their faith to see the cathedral in flames. They may have felt anguish, disappointment, fear, anger, hopelessness.
But, three days after Jesus’ death, something happened that was even more incredulous! Jesus Christ rose from the dead and appeared to them in bodily form. Hundreds of people saw and touched him after he rose again. And, again, they were confused, lacking in understanding until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on them and then they understood — that death was necessary so that Christ could rise again. He is alive.
Christ’s resurrection is the fundamental basis of the Christian life. It affirms our humanity that we will suffer and feel all that mortality brings to us but, through faith in Christ, we will have access to divine power to help us live to the fullest despite all our humanness.
A video, titled “Where was God when Notre Dame burned” is making the rounds in which a Catholic priest gives the answer. His explanation is precisely what Good Friday and the Resurrection is all about and I would like to paraphrase it here.
He says people would get emotional seeing the cathedral burning and especially seeing the tall spire topple down. But he draws attention to the fact that the crucifix in the church remained intact and that was a symbol of hope, that God is everywhere helping us along. Meaning that the materials and the building can burn but the real message of the church is hope and that will never die.
The priest calls on Christians not to be in despair over the burning of the church but to take the hope that the cross points to — that is eternally alive because Christ lives — and rise above the negative feelings.
That is what Christianity is all about — applying that resurrected power by faith to the circumstances of our lives and living life to the fullest!
So, this Good Friday, don’t be mournful! Some Christians get very emotional and go to great lengths to relive the sorrows that Christ may have felt when he carried his cross. But the truth is that the pain inflicted on him was no more than was inflicted on others who also died on the cross. Crucifixion was the punishment for criminals of that time. And, Jesus died like a common criminal as predicted by the ancient scriptures.
People sometimes find rational explanations difficult to digest and prefer the emotional connection. Such people will wear ashes over them and walk around in sackcloth or flagellate themselves or carry crosses like Jesus, none of which is mentioned in the Bible that we must do to follow him! They go overboard on showing the pain of Christ, but it is not necessary.
The cross is a powerful Christian symbol of the hope it opened up for us. Good Friday makes no sense without the resurrection. And, that is why we remember Good Friday but celebrate the resurrection. Death was necessary for divine life to enter the human realm. We live that out.
Easter, by the way, is an ancient pagan festival celebrating the arrival of spring, which is often associated with the concept of rebirth. By the eighth century, Anglo-Saxon Christians began adopting the name to designate the celebration of Christ’s resurrection, which also signifies rebirth into a new life.
Wishing you a blessed Easter!