Remembering the Friday…April 10, 2020
We are sometimes a little uncomfortable with Good Friday, and tend to rush past it to arrive at Easter Sunday as quickly as possible. Yet unless we feel the weight of the Friday, we will miss much of the mystery of Easter. If you are a theologian you might say that a theology of suffering must precede a theology of glory, lest the latter becomes trite and superficial.
So this Good Friday I have been noting the things I need to remember…
I need to leave the last supper and walk to the Garden of Gethsemane. I need to pause – is that Jesus, crying out to God, “Father if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me”? I need to see him sweating, as it were, great drops of blood. I need to feel the loneliness of spotting the disciples sleeping. I need to see the soldiers arrive, and feel the shock of Judas’ kiss of betrayal (“Judas, why?”) I need to stand and watch the trial and ask myself: “Why am I so reluctant to be identified as a follower of Jesus?” I must hear Pilate’s verdict, “I find no wrong in him – but crucify him anyway (just don’t blame me)”. I must not forget the whipping, the purple robe, the crown of thorns, the mocking soldiers bullying cry: “Hail, king of the Jews.”
I need to walk the Via Dolorosa – the road of tears and suffering. Like Simon of Cyrene, for a moment I must feel the weight of the Cross – and then hand it back to Jesus, and watch him being nailed to it.
I must stand with the small crowd of the faithful (just a few women), and get as close to the Cross as I can. In subdued shock I will hear the crowd sneer, “He saved others, he cannot save himself.”
I will hear the seven words from the Cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”; to the thief “Today you will be with me in Paradise”; to Mary and John, “Behold your son; behold your mother”; to God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”; to the soldiers, “I thirst”; to God, “Into your hands I commend my Spirit”; to us all “It is finished.”
I need to see the earth split, the sun refuse to shine, and all of nature join me as I weep at the death of the man who was God.
And even as I weep, I need to hear the astonished cry of the Roman Centurion: “Surely this man was the Son of God.”