It seems strange that we might refer to the day of Jesus' crucifixion as 'Good Friday': how could the day on which the Son of God was put to death be referred to as "Good"? Surely it is the sign of the depth of evil in the world.
We can call it Good Friday because it remains the greatest demonstration of love ever known. God came to show his love, not in an awesome demonstration of strength which left us cowering, wondering what terror awaited us, but in the act of love in which he identified with the struggles and pain of life and death. He was at the edge of society: powerless, defenseless, inviting our love rather than demanding it. It is an invitation: compelling and powerful indeed, to receive the love of God freely and live in response with obedient love.
We call it Good Friday because it also touches on one of the greatest human needs. Whilst we may find difficulty with the Old Testament model of sacrifices for sin, it underlines an innate human need to make good for wrongs. The New Testament writers saw in Jesus' death the perfect sacrifice for all sin, which is echoed in the words of Jesus on the cross: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do".
We call it Good Friday because it helps us to make sense of an otherwise absurd life in the face of an inevitable death. Jesus' death, through the resurrection, destroys the power and fear of death and is the indication of, and the opening to, life beyond the grave. "Death, where is your victory?"
Good Friday? Yes. When God's human creatures are bad, He is good. When we are at our worst, God is at his best...!
Whilst we may question the appropriateness or relevance of the biblical models of interpretation of the cross for our contemporary culture, there is no doubting the import of what took place on the cross: the God of creation identified with our humanity in weakness, and through it all gave the gift of life for all to receive. That is good! Indeed, I can think of nothing better....
April 7, 1996