What’s So Good about Good Friday?

Thursday was probably a good day for Jesus until late in the evening. He celebrated Passover dinner with his twelve best friends, and then they went out to the garden of Gethsemane to pray.

Good turned to bad when his “friend” Judas, the betrayer, arrived with soldiers, who arrested Jesus on the grounds of sedition (he claimed to be a king). They led Jesus to the high priest’s home where a kangaroo court condemned him. Peter, another close “friend,” denied even knowing Jesus. The soldiers took Jesus to the prison by the temple, where the guards stripped his clothes off, gave him forty lashes less one, dressed him in a purple robe, and jammed a crown of thorns onto his head. Next, Jesus was led to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of that area, who tried to question him, but Jesus wouldn’t cooperate. Because he lived in Herod Antipas’s jurisdiction (Galilee), Jesus was taken over to his residence for more interrogation. Herod didn’t want to have anything to do with him, so the guards took Jesus back to Pilate, who then ruled death by crucifixion.

Next, Jesus was led up to Golgotha (Place of the Skulls), where the soldiers kept pushing him, and the crowds kept mocking him. The soldiers start attaching Jesus to the crossbeam with big nails through his wrists and one in each ankle bone to make certain that Jesus didn’t fall off his cross. Two other prisoners were being crucified next to Jesus, and they began taunting him. Picture this: Jesus, stark naked, hanging on a cross with the hot desert sun beating down on him, struggling to catch every breath as he suffocated to death. It was a horrendous form of torture.

How could any of this ever be described as Good?

The church wants me to say it was good because Jesus died for my sins. I have a hard time believing that a loving God would put his Son through this torture because of my mess ups? Wouldn’t a heart attack have worked just as well?

I do not believe Jesus died for our sins but because of our sins—the sins of a few jealous, controlling Jewish high priests who wanted to get rid of the pesky little Jewish itinerant preacher from Galilee.

No one can deny the institutional church is into control, from absolute to minimum. It needs to control the narrative, and dying for our sins is an essential part of that story. To change this part would necessitate making huge changes to the theology of Christianity as it presents itself today. The church would rather die.

Jesus dying for our sins puts the cross at the center of his story. I see the cross as a symbol of violence at its worst. Could that symbol be part of the reason the institutional church has a long and sordid history of violence, even today? See January 6, 2020, and Christian Nationalism.

Wouldn’t the symbol of the dove be much more accurate in helping us promulgate the main message of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to love everyone, even our enemies?

I am finished calling the day Jesus was crucified Good Friday. Let’s call it for what it was—Bad Friday—and spend the day reflecting on our own bad behavior as well as the church’s.

The good happens on Easter, when metaphorically Followers can change their Bad Fridays into Easters.

Peace Love Joy Hope Kindness



Photo by Manuel Guerrero on Unsplash

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