On This Good Friday

2349753910_76eef94138-1As most of us Christians know and recognize, Good Friday is anything but a good day. Instead, the day we remember every Friday before Easter Sunday was a day of torture and death. It was a day filled with sorrow and despair, doubt and fear. It was a day when everything the followers of Christ had come to know and love about Him was called into question. In fact, Jesus predicted this would happen, particularly in Peter’s case, but I’m not sure the disciples had a real frame of reference by which to understand the things He said would take place.

Instead, the followers of Christ defaulted to instinct and reaction when, on this day, their healer, friend, mentor, teacher–whomever He had become to them–was forcibly taken away at the shouts of the crowd and subsequently crucified.  They defaulted to withdrawl, fleeing and denying association. Maybe they reacted out of fear or grief.  Maybe they felt overwhelmed and needed to get away from it all so they could gather their wits about themselves.  Then again, their withdrawl could have been due to humiliation and embarrassment. After hearing the taunts and hurtful jests of the mockers, it’s possible the accusers’ voices echoed the doubts they secretly were harboring in their own souls. Whatever the reason(s), Jesus didn’t come through that Good Friday as expected of Him, by those who knew Him and loved Him best.

As we read the Gospels, we see in the life of Jesus and His disciples a growing confidence, witness, and fame the closer they came to the day of the cross. I imagine that the disciples began to experience an ever-growing swelling of pride and self-assurance that often occurs with close, extended association with famous individuals. There was, perhaps, a subconscious,  if not outright, sense of indestructibility and immortality in the hearts, minds, and personas of Jesus’ inner circle. After all, they had come to believe Jesus was the Messiah based somewhat in part of the fact that they had been with Jesus on those occasions when He had been followed and sought after, pushed to the edges of town by pursuers with rocks who had every intention of killing Him and destroying Him. But He always got away unscathed.

However, this time was different. Jesus didn’t get away. Instead, Jesus went right into the hands of His attackers with barely even a fight. And it just so happened that it wasn’t just a little public trial, it was a major publicity stunt, for Jerusalem at this time was swollen with people on account of it being Passover. He wasn’t just being disposed of, instead everything He had built, based on who He was came crashing down. If ever there was a bad time for Jesus to be cornered and captured,  there could be no worse time. Which means, for His followers, this was the worst time to have association with this Jesus who was turning out to be a fraud, a fake, a conartist and master manipulator. Why couldn’t He save Himself? Why didn’t He do what any good Messiah would do in a situation like this?

Then, when one steps way from the scene and goes into hiding where it’s quiet and dark, after the fears and doubts have surfaced in denial, everything comes flooding back–His words, His miracles, and even His predictions. More than anything else, His love.

And yet, the thing they may have wanted most was absent, nonexistent. It’s the thing most of us want when we don’t know what’s next. We want the road map forward. We want definitive answers. We want to know that everything is going according to plan and better things are on the other side. We want to know how to fix what’s broken, and when we do, things will be back to normal–whatever “normal” was before everything came crashing down.

But, Jesus hadn’t given them a road map. He’d given them Himself, and now He was gone. The past didn’t make sense in light of a disrupted future.  The present didn’t make sense in light of a suspect past. They would have to rely on the one other gift Jesus had given them.

What Jesus had given them was a gift of faith. They didn’t know it at the time it was happening, but during all those days and nights with Jesus, He was building their faith, for they would need it now. This faith would sustain them in the absence of answers. Their faith would support them when doubt and confusion and despair would seek to overtake them. When uncertainty loomed large, the faith that Jesus built and secured in them would rise up even larger, and in this faith, Jesus would live again–literally, figuratively, or otherwise.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us that, ” Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” Faith gives us wings to rise above.

Each one of us in our lives is likely to experience, if we haven’t already, a time or situation when we are, similar to Christ’s followers on that Good Friday so long ago, wanting answers, and all we receive is silence. We find ourselves looking for a clear path forward, but every place we turn is confusing and frustrating. We want to fix what’s broken but are illequipped with wrong tools and busted parts. We simply want to turn back the clock to a better, brighter time, but that’s not an option. Instead, what we have is faith, and that even seems not to be enough.

This is what Hebrews 11:13 tells us when speaking of the patriarchs: “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having received them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

Faith is enough.

Good Friday is about the darkness in life.  Good Friday reminds us of our burdens and sins. We look in the eyes of our doubts, fears, failures; the things that stress us out; the things that are and wish they weren’t.  And we wonder, What now? How does Jesus plan to come through for me on this one? And, What if He doesn’t? 

Just like Peter and John and Mary and Thomas, we wait with our insecurities and questions. In one hand, we hold our uncertainties, but in the other hand we hold our faith. We know that our faith is able to rise and will not be found wanting for Christ fulfilled their hopes then, and is, therefore, able to match it today.

On this Good Friday, will you let your faith grow and rise as you seek solace where there is silence? Will you find strength and comfort as you remember faith’s power to restore life in the face of death?

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One Response to “On This Good Friday”
  1. Becky E says:

    Thanks for this, Amanda. I’ve often times tried to understand what the disciples could have been thinking that night when Jesus was arrested until His resurrection. So many emotions! To know that His closest followers experienced doubt, fear, and guilt, reminds me that I, also Christ’s follower, have moments just like them, but I can also rise above those moments in faith. I pray that you have had a joyous Easter Day!

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