Friday, April 14, 2017

how can you love Good Friday?

Good Friday has always been my least favorite day of the Holy Week.

I know it is the day that the price for my salvation is paid.
I know that without it, I am lost and good for nothing.
I know that in those holy moments of pain and terror, Jesus chose us over Himself.

I know it is our best day...but it feels like our worst day.

Because Good Friday is a horror movie kind of day.
I don't know about you but I am not good with blood.

I want to skip over the gore of Friday to the high hope of Sunday.
I want the angels with their bright glory and tombstones flung back.
I want the gates of hell to be shattered and the power of death to be broken.
I want Mary Magdalene, racing with joy down the path towards the disciples,
yelling at the top of her lungs, "He is ALIVE! I have seen Him!"

This...I love. I love everything about Easter morning.

But I wish there was a less brutal version of the crucifixion.
Something more palatable. Something a little less over the top.
My Christian sensibilities can't quite handle all that carnage.

I can't bear the thoughts of thorns piercing Jesus' forehead sending blood trickling into His eyes.
Or the cackle of the Roman soldiers as they send the whip singing into His bared back.
Knowing that He must have shouted out in pain and wept into the ground.

I hate thinking that He suffered...alone. Not a friend in sight.
That He was betrayed by the ones He loved best of all.
That His dignity was in shreds and
that people who weren't good enough to kiss His feet saw Him naked...
and showered Him with spit.

I can't stand it. I really can't.
I don't want to think about it. I don't want to ponder it.
I don't want it. Any of it.
Because it is so ugly. So brutal. So wrong. So evil.

I can hardly stand the thought of Jesus, bent and bowed, straining under the weight of the cross,
staggering up the hill to the place where He knows He will die.

I cringe thinking about each strike of the mallet against spike
and knowing that His screams tore the air.

The laughter of the centurions as they gambled for His robe?
John and Mary, His mom,
holding each other up as they watch the cross lifted and dropped into place?
The heaving of Jesus' chest as he tries to get a morsel of air into his lungs?
His desolation at feeling abandoned by His Father...
the One who has asked Him to do this heart shattering work?

 I hate it all. Good Friday is a nightmare.

I hate every. single. thing. about Good Friday until I hear His words.
The ones torn from his lips that were cracked and dry with thirst.

Father, forgive them. They have no idea what they are doing.

It is in this moment...that His heart is on display.
It is thundering in His chest.
It is broken and bleeding out for all to see.

And His heart is for us.
The ones who put Him there.
The spitters. The haters. The nail pounders. The mockers.
The gamblers. The whip holders. The deserters. The hate filled.
The killers. The despots. The bitter. The angry. The lost.

His heart is for me.
And for you.
At our worst. At our most desperate.
He is pouring out grace and forgiveness.
He is heaping loving kindness on our heads.

And He is calling out to His Dad,

Don't give them what they deserve.
Let me take it instead.
Because I want them to know you.

He held himself there in that place of pain
so that you and I could be free.
So that we could see how deeply and terribly He loves us.
So that we would know that
there was absolutely nothing that He would not do on our behalf.

The miracle of Easter is grounded in the gore of Good Friday.
The power of His love is poured out for us with His blood and tears.
His depth of His pain and suffering on the cross shout of His faithfulness.
His benediction... It is finished... ushers in our deliverance.

Captives set free.
Blind eyes opened.
Those who sat in darkness blinking in the light of hope and freedom.
Bringing all of who He is into the chaos of our lives.
Grace. Mercy. Forgiveness. Goodness. Peace.
And love.
Love upon love upon love upon love.

And that?
That is what makes Good Friday the LOVE-liest day of all.

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