the "good" in good friday

Earlier this morning I joked with a co-worker at our church's coffee shop that everyone around Willow was wearing dark, neutral colors - probably in recognition of Good Friday. (Indeed, every person we saw in line was wearing grey.) We shared a chuckle, grabbed our drinks, and parted ways. But then, as I descended the stairway to my office, I realized that there's nothing chuckle-worthy about Good Friday at all. Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, not unlike this one:

There was a crown of thorns placed on his head. The purple robe He wore was the icing of mockery and shame. According to John 19 (NLT), He was slapped across the face, He was forced to carry a heavy wooden cross all alone, and He was subjected to the most cruel form of Roman punishment: crucifixion. There was nothing good about this day.

And yet, even from the cross, He gave hope to a thief, He consoled his mother and ensured that she would be cared for, and He forgave those who harmed Him. In His darkest of hours, Jesus held on to His purpose, never abandoning the mission. The pain was great, but He knew the outcome would be way greater. And so he stayed, nailed to a cross, and died a death unimaginable to us.

So, where's the good? For years I never quite understood why such a somber day of remembrance would hold the title "Good" Friday. Too much pain and sorrow overwhelmed my heart to ever consider the goodness in this event. Easter Sunday was always the day that goodness took over: bright colors at church and Easter baskets brought back the sweetness of the week.

But if I'm reflective enough to find good in today, it's in this: Jesus' death wasn't just death. For me - and for you - it sealed a promise of love and grace, and was the ultimate Gift to a sinful and hopeless world. The Jewish priests, the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers who drove the nails into His hands and feet, would all be able to qualify to receive this Gift of grace. And so would I.

I also find good in Jesus' example to us in His staying the course, remaining someplace He could've quite easily escaped. Many times, the places that have been darkest in my life have also been the places where, if I've been brave and courageous enough to stay, I've grown exponentially more - in my understanding of this Gift that consists of equal parts love and grace, in my understanding of what it means to hold on to a promise of victory and completion, even when circumstances scream death and defeat.

And so this Good Friday - and it is a Good Friday, receive the Gift. Stay the course. Look forward to the victory that's on the other side.
Ashlee EilandComment