32-34 Along the way they came on a man from Cyrene named Simon and made him carry Jesus’ cross. Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call “Skull Hill,” they offered him a mild painkiller, but when he tasted it he wouldn’t drink it.
35-40 After they had finished nailing him to the cross and were waiting for him to die, they killed time by throwing dice for his clothes. Above his head they had posted the criminal charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the jews.
Traditionally, and especially in the more liturgical expressions of the Church, the week leading up to Easter or Resurrection Sunday is called Holy Week. Holy Week is a sacred moment where we take time to reflect and embrace the week that led up to Jesus’s, and subsequently ours through Him, triumphant resurrection and victory over death and the grave. During the week, Good Friday is remembered as the day that Jesus endured the worst of the pain and sorrow he would suffer as a man physically on earth. He was betrayed by His closest friends, unfairly tried and convicted, mocked, beaten and literally murdered by the people He came to save. From any spectators point of view it was a somber and excruciating day for Jesus and any one who had trusted in Him.
This should lead us back to the question that I titled this blog entry with… What’s so good about Friday? I think it’s an important question to ask and answer. The point of Good Friday is not that the crucifixion of Jesus was barbaric and a display of the worst parts of humanity. The crucifixion on its own is evil. It’s what it led to, that makes it good. Without the cross there would be no empty tomb to celebrate. Without Jesus’s death He would not have been resurrected into eternal life. Without taking onto Himself all the sin of humanity, He could not have taken on God’s wrath for us and His blood would not have paid for our atonement. Good Friday is good not because of what happened, but because of what it led to. It’s a reminder that in Jesus, pain and suffering becomes a doorway to resurrection and liberty. God has a divine and perfect plan to restore any form of sorrow on earth into His perfect joy. What Jesus did on the cross was God’s final decision into all of humanity's destiny. No person is too lost, and there is no situation in your life that is too hopeless, if you will just behold and receive the Lamb.
Good Friday is the reminder that Jesus’s finished work on the cross is the empowerment for humanity to walk through any trial and see victory.
In Matthew 27, it says, “the soldiers crucifying Jesus offered Him a mild painkiller, but when Jesus realized what it was and what it would do to Him, He refused it”. Jesus in His final hours is offered some comfort, a mild sedative to take the edge off, but he doesn't drink it. This in some ways a rallying cry for His Church, when we encounter hardships and pain. We, like Jesus, should not run from hardship to settle for comfort, or try to dull ourselves from what we are experiencing. Instead, like Jesus, we should embrace it, knowing that in Jesus what we suffer through now is actually a doorway to Glory later. He is our King, and we can endure anything in this life because of the work of His cross. Happy Good Friday.