This day is known by many names. In English, it is called Good Friday. In Spanish, Viernes Santo, Holy Friday; in Romanian, Vinerea Mare, the Great Friday, However named, we live into it both at witness and participants!
What I mean is that Jesus was executed by the Roman Empire for treason, challenging the dominant power structures of his day and standing up for justice. He was, therefore, killed by human sin, in which we all participate. As the old hymn says, “”Twas I denied Him. I crucified Him.” We also find ourselves guilty of sometimes buying in to those very imperial values that he challenged. There is blood on our hands, too.
Please don’r put too much stock in the details of narrative. The particulars of the last hours of Jesus vary immensely amongst the Gospels, and John’s text especially is ahistorical and anti-Semitic in ways that reflect the grave frustration of his community over the rejection of the Jesus movement by mainstream Judaism, and have contributed to much evil in our world. We need look no farther than the Shoah, the “Holocaust,” to find a tragedy in part fuelled by so-called Christian exegesis. We must move past the all-too-human polemic in John and mine it for its profound theological insights.
In the text we see how the Divine Son experienced pain and, in that, our own daily pains and suffering find meaning and blessing, and are redeemed. The Son of God experienced loss, that we may find His presence in the midst of our losses. The Christ experienced new life, precisely because God would not permit Evil to have the last word; divine love prevailed, as God gave Christ — and us through Him — the new, abundant, eternal life of Easter.
Yes, this is very much our story. On this, Jesus’ darkest day, we find ourselves living in dark and uncertain times of universal pandemic, but like him we dare to be faithful. We dare to trust God. We dare to be hopeful in the face of the unknown, the frustrating, the frightening. Because the Christ was redeemed, we are forgiven and redeemed. God can get us through anything life can throw at us. Just as the Christ shall live, we too shall live in him. Tune in Sunday for the rest of his story — and ours.