What’s so good about Good Friday?
On Good Friday, we commemorate the death of Jesus – the brutal, government sanctioned, crowd-appeasing murder of an innocent man, the Son of God. It is a day of heartbreak, of great suffering and tragedy for Jesus and his followers. And yet, we who follow Jesus millennia later commemorate the day by calling it good.
Many have struggled with the goodness of Good Friday. Some find goodness in the recognition that Good Friday leads to Easter, a necessary path of pain on the way to resurrection. Others find goodness in Jesus’ sacrificial love, a love so profound he was willing to endure the cross to communicate its vastness and completeness. Still others find the cross itself salvific, opening the door to divine forgiveness and thereby rendering it good.
This Holy Week, I find myself drawn to a different goodness. As I see unjust suffering all around me: the killing of innocents at the hands of police, government sanctioned racism, corporate profiteering, mass deportations, mass incarceration, unequal access to basic rights and resources, environmental devastation, a growing homeless community and a widening gap between the wealth and the poor, I am drawn to Jesus commitment to serve the poor, the suffering, the vulnerable and the outcast. Jesus was so aligned with serving those in need, challenging the powers that create and perpetuate injustice, that those in power sought to destroy him. The suffering of his community became his own, and in this, he revealed God’s truest nature – God who suffers with humanity, for humanity.
The good news I celebrate this Good Friday is that amidst all the unjust suffering all around me, God is present. God, who endured unjust suffering, continues to stand in solidarity with the vulnerable, the incarcerated, the outcast, and the poor, and invites us to continue the work of suffering with, and for, one another. What’s more, the God who stands with and suffers alongside humanity is also in the business of transforming suffering to joy, death to life, oppression to freedom. That is Good News indeed.
— Pastor Allison