What makes Good Friday so good? Several people asked me to please answer the question about why we call this day… the day Jesus died on the cross, Good Friday. Lol…like most religious questions there is no clear cut answer. In the past two days, I have read 5 very different answers ranging for why the death of Jesus is a good thing (we certainly wouldn’t have resurrection without it…) to the the idea that the German words for God’s Friday Gottes Freitag look a lot like Good Friday.
Still, I have a rule of thumb in answering questions like this. I find what I consider a trusted source and I go with that. Which brings me to Fiona MacPherson… seriously you can’t make up names like that… Fiona MacPherson ( it gets better) is the senior editor at the Oxford English Dictionary. Say what you will about all the other arguments… my money’s on Fiona. And Fiona says that “good” traditionally “designates a day on which religious observance is held. She says that “good” in this context refers to “a day or season observed as holy by the church.” So that’ that.
And on that note, I preached the traditional Good Friday service today at noon. I talked about how this Lent has been a season when I have recognized the power and felt God communicating through scenes, moments in the life of Jesus. It is as if God is painting these powerful and moving scenes that can speak to us. Have you ever stood in front a great work of art and felt it “speaking” to your heart and your senses? Much is said on Good Friday about the 7 last words (or phrases) of Jesus. I won’t deny that they are important, that Jesus has a great message in every phrase. But when I consider the scene of the cross in all of its brilliance and contrasts and chaos, I can hear God shouting to the universe. The barren hill called Golgotha, the place of the skull. Three cross at the top of the hill, against the beautiful blue sky. In the center, hanging on the cross is the Son of God. The God of creation is communicating with the world through picture that is grotesque and gory and violent and chaotic and yet strangely beautiful. We understand this language, because it is the world we know. It is who and what we all are. Broken. Full of contradictions. What I love most about this picture is that God is not off somewhere in the sky. God is right in the middle of the muck. Center stage in the violence and brutality. Jesus is there with his arms stretched out. And God says to us, “This…. This is how much I love you.” And the caption on this picture is simply this: “For God so loved the world, He gave his son.”
Grace and Peace at Lent.