Sleep on This: April 10 – Good Friday
It is perhaps the most ironic of names. “Good” Friday. Because, in so many ways, it was so bad. So, so bad. Jesus in all his bloodied dignity standing courageously before Pilate. Crowds, stirred up by a few mouthy rabble-rousers— (there are ALWAYS a few mouthy rabble-rousers in the crowd; it takes such courage to deny them!)—the crowds that only days earlier hailed Jesus with “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”…at least SOME of those same people now screamed two words: “Crucify him!” Bad. So, so bad.
Pilate lacked the courage to do what he knew was right. This hardened man who had no compunction about ordering death, could find no good reason to do so in this case. But expediently…gutlessly… he washed his hands of the affair. So, so bad.
And where were the disciples? His boon companions, some of whom swore an oath unto death? Where was even ONE friendly face, one courageous voice crying out against the indignity of it? So bad.
The horror of flagellation…the degradation of mocking…his ever-weakening trek to the top of Skull Hill with a cross beam on his back until finally, spent, he collapsed and a black man named Simon entered sacred history. Compelled to complete that wicked and sacred errand, he bore the cross the rest of the way. Then the pressing of Jesus onto the wood…the rising and falling of a sledgehammer that drove home the spikes. It is all so bad.
The anguished and gasping words from the cross. One incredible but predictable act of forgiveness. The giving up of his Spirit…for no one could take the life of Jesus; he alone could offer it. And then, the darkness, the trembling earth and finally, the ghastly silence as he breathed his last. It was so, so bad.
And yet, we call it “good.” Good Friday. That is a name that can only be given retrospectively. Only three days from now will we be able to call this Friday good. But first, the horror of this day…and tomorrow; the deep sadness as we mull what life without Jesus feels like.
Do not rush through the badness of Good Friday. Do not numb yourself to the sadness of Holy Saturday. Only when we courageously embrace both will we triumphantly celebrate on Sunday.
Lord Jesus, as I lay me down to sleep my last thoughts are of you, laid down in your sleep of death in that borrowed tomb. It is hard for me to contemplate all that you experienced on this day. Unsettling because it reminds me of the depth of my sin and brokenness, that it would require of you such painful sacrifice. And yet, you did it! Everything that was required to save me, you offered freely. Lovingly. All that was so, so bad…so that you might make me good. Thank you, thank you, thank you my kind savior! Amen.