Mateo is sitting on my lap right now and wants to help me write about Good Friday. I asked him, “What should we write?” He replied, “About Jesus.” He’s three but he knows how to cut to the heart of the matter.
The kids and I have been talking about Jesus’ death and resurrection all week. It’s pretty much the sweetest thing to hear them say the word resurrection. They understand Good Friday in light of Easter Sunday. Once they declared that Easter was when Jesus rose from the dead, I prompted them, “Then what happened two days before he rose?”
Good Friday is a sacred day for Christians and also special in that it hasn’t been distorted by secular society into a non-religious holiday like Easter and Christmas have. There’s no way to celebrate Good Friday if you don’t believe that Jesus dying on the cross was momentous.
There’s a stillness and sorrow to this day. The feeling is best captured in the poignant moment at the end of each Good Friday service when the mass ends and there’s no jubilant recessional hymn. Instead, everyone just leaves in a quiet and sorrowful atmosphere. Jesus has died and we wait with the knowledge that his suffering and death was as a propitiation for our sins. I can’t imagine anything more humbling and awe-inspiring.
The passion story from the Book of Luke is precious. Christ only speaks a few short sentences, but they teach us so much about his love and coming Kingdom.
Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments. And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out in a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. Luke 23: 32-46