I’ve never been one to make a big deal of Good Friday. It’s always been eerily morose to remember the death of Jesus. I’ve tried to connect by reading the passion story or by watching famous Jesus movies, but I never could quite understand it; not like I can now. It is vital to my faith, now.
Come to find out, Good Friday is the least attended service of the entire year. I don’t find this hard to believe in our culture that wants so desperately not to look at the reality of death. But, I want to stare at it face on, now. It is important to for me to see how this plays out.
If you could go with me for a moment and imagine what it was like to be one of the disciples on that dark day. They were holed up in a small room, hiding, terrified, and reeling from the loss of their best friend. Their hero. The Messiah of the world. For some of you, you don’t have to dig that deep to connect to this feeling. Death has come knocking on your door and it hasn’t pulled any punches. It has taken our daughters and sons, mothers and fathers, our best friends and our spouses. It relents for no one. Not even our Jesus.
This Man, the one whom the disciples had put their whole lives on the line for, was hung like a criminal on a tree. Left to die a terribly painful death. Moments before His last breath, he uttered the most notorious, vulnerable phrase “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?”. Like all of us, Jesus wanted to be saved from death – to not have to feel the tinge of hopelessness that comes with pain and loss. He wanted out. We all want a way out. Most times we feel abandoned by God when life throws an unexpected curve ball and there is no way but through. You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you must go through it. Jesus wasn’t saved on that dark Friday. He committed His spirit to His Father, released His last dying breath and was taken to a grave. God died.
Now to our benefit, we know what happens on Sunday, but the disciples were in the thick of fear and panic, heavy with grief and despair. Before we move on so quickly to the resurrection, let’s stay there. After all, there is no resurrection without the anguish of the cross. Let’s mourn our losses. Let the weeping wails that we’ve kept tidily hidden ring out to fill the proverbial cathedrals of our souls. This is our time to weep and know that Jesus understands. He knows the pains of death. He experienced it. He isn’t rushing the song of grief and He isn’t worried about it ending on the minor note. Linger there. He isn’t uncomfortable, so you don’t have to be either. Feel it. Feel Him. He is close, closer than you could possibly know.