March 31, 2015

"Good" Friday

Me and My SoldierMan: "Good" Friday

Do you remember the comic strip “B.C.”? It was about cavemen (and cave-ants) doing silly things like inventing the triangle “wheel,” and ants and turtles giving commentary on them. But on the high holidays, cartoonist Johnny Hart would always have very poignant strips that I loved reading in our city newspaper, even when I was a kid.

The only one I ever cut out and put on my wall was a simple one, and would have run this last Sunday. In the first box (? sorry, I don’t know my comics technical terms) a regular ant is in front of a little anthill church, and he’s reading the church sign: “Good Friday service 7:00.” In the second box, a chubby ant with a clerical collar is next to him, and the first ant says, “You people are sickos! If I thought someone had killed my god on a Friday I wouldn’t call it good!” And in the third box, the minister ant says, “Nor should you, my son, if your god were able to STAY dead.”

And that’s it. That’s the whole strip.

I get that it’s an old joke, and maybe no one seriously thinks that? But the last couple of weeks I have seen other cartoons (much less reverently) communicate essentially the same idea as the second box in that strip. You gotta have mental problems to worship a God and call it “good” that He was tortured to death.

I remember a friend told me once how weird cross jewelry was, because it was basically like having a little silver electric chair hanging around your neck. Morbid. A little grotesque. Not what you would consider traditionally “beautiful.”

But we do. We wear the cross and decorate our homes with the cross and make Easter cookies in the shape of a cross. And I think my favorite summation comes from an article I read following the IS beheadings of Christians on a beach last month:

In a word, the cross meant the victory of the world, and the annihilation of Jesus and what he stood for.

And this is why it is surpassing strange that one of the earliest Apostles and missionaries of the Christian religion could write, "I preach one thing, Christ and him crucified!" How could Paul -- the passage is taken from his first letter to the Corinthians -- possibly present the dreadful cross as the centerpiece of his proclamation? He could do so only because he knew that God had raised the crucified Jesus from the dead, proving thereby that God's love and forgiveness are greater than anything in the world. This is why his exaltation of the cross is a sort of taunt to Rome and all of its brutal descendants down through the ages: "You think that scares us? God has conquered that!" And this is why, to this day, Christians boldly hold up an image of the humiliated, tortured Jesus to the world. What they are saying is, "We are not afraid." (emphasis added)

Read the rest here.

Good Friday is “Good” because of Easter Sunday. To be honest, aside from the fulfillment of the Messianic Hebrew prophecies, a man being crucified in 1st Century Rome was no extraordinary thing. It actually happened all the time. And it’s no big thing that the leader of a religious movement dies. That’s happened every single time.

What makes Good Friday “Good” is the fact that Jesus didn’t stay dead. The tomb is empty, He has conquered death, and by doing so proved He had the power to bring life to every believer throughout the ages.

Good Friday didn’t seem good the day it happened. It was a dark, scary day for those who were there. But today we know that Good Friday is what gives us access to forgiveness, and the resurrection is what proves we can rest in that forgiveness.

And that’s why it’s “good.”

For more: 1 Peter 3:18, 1 Corinthians 15:3, Romans 6:10, Hebrews 10:10, Hebrews 10:12


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