Good Friday is neither special nor unique.
What happens on Good Friday is no different than what happens others days.
One falsely convicted man killed by a merciless and cruel government is barely even news-worthy in our world.
Jesus was no unarmed black man killed by the cops, causing marches in the streets, social media hashtags and widespread shows of support. Jesus’ followers hid away after his death.
Jesus was no Ukrainian family shelled in from of new cameras by careless or cruel Russian military. Only a few devoted followers wept for Jesus. The whole world weeps for Ukraine and the atrocities committed there.
Jesus was no missing and murdered indigenous woman, no victim of residential schools. His beating, his death did not spark an inquiry. His unmarked grave did not spark an apology from the Pope himself.
There were no news reports for the crucifixion. There were no hashtags like #PrayforJesus. There were no flags to put on profile pictures, no pundits or reporters or commentators who talked and talked and talked.
Good Friday is not special. It is just another day for us.
Good Friday is everyday in our world.
Just in the past year we have come up with so many new names for Good Friday, so many new names for the violence and death that we simply cannot end:
Kyiv, Bucha, Kharkiv, Mariupol. Shanghai, Tel Aviv, Sacramento, Kabul. Ukraine, Yemen, Sudan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan.
Putin, the Kremlin, Zelenskyy, COVID-19, Variants, Omicron. Convoys, protests, truckers. Inflation, housing, poverty. January 6th, Capitol Riot, Insurrection. Residential schools, reconciliation, climate change.
Our list of new Good Friday words is so long we forget what we were listing off in the first place.
Our list of new Good Friday words is so long that we forget them almost as soon as we create them.
Our list of new Good Friday words makes us numb.
Our list makes violence and death feel normal.
The first Good Friday was not special. One man died on a cross.
One man who angered those in power, so they go rid of him.
One man who didn’t give the chanting crowds their King, so they started shouting crucify.
One man whose own followers betrayed and abandoned him in his worst hour.
Jesus died like the rest of us,
Jesus suffered violence and cruelty and hate like the rest of us,
Jesus was just another person to suffer an unjust and merciless death,
The cross of Good Friday was not special.
Except that not being special is what makes Good Friday special.
We didn’t think that God would be on that cross.
We didn’t think that God would die at our hands.
The cross of Good Friday was not special, the violence of the death was not special, the ones who condemned were not special.
The one who died was.
The one who died changed everything.
The one who died was God.
Today, God has died. On Good Friday God has died.
And all those other words for Good Friday, for death and violence in our world. Those words from that list so long we forget. Those words lose their power. All those days of death and violence and suffering that seem to come at us unrelentingly from the news, from around the world, from our backyards.
All those Good Fridays that seem to happen far too often.
They lose their power.
Because the God who died, died with us.
Because the God who died, lived with us.
Because the God who died, loved with us.
God died on Good Friday.
But death did not destroy God.
And God is not forgotten.
And God is not finished.
Good Friday and all our other words for violence and death are not bigger than God is.
On Good Friday, God who is bigger than death showed us something new.
On Good Friday God gave us truly new words. Words that change the world.
New words that God uses to change us.
On Good Friday God dies with us.
But what is ended,
What is finished,
What is over is,
the power of death.
On Good Friday death is ended.
On Good Friday death is no more
On Good Friday death will never have the final word.
Today, on Good Friday, God has a new word.
One word that changes everything.
Artwork – Golgotha by Edvard Munch, 1900.