"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."
Good Friday is complex. It brings up a mixed bag of emotions for most. The sheer horror of the torture, crucifixion, abandonment and shame are so overwhelming that even when visualized, like in Mel Gibson's Passion of Christ, its almost surreal. The act of love that was being displayed by Jesus, willingly giving his life is equally overwhelming. Who can put their arms around a love that suffers for that which is hostile against itself.
It is so tempting to frame Good Friday in neat theological terms. We use words like atonement, appeasement, and propitiation to talk about sacrifice that the Son of God made for humanity. We do our best to take the rough edges off of the gruesomeness and the horrific violence by making the event spiritual, even otherworldly. It sanitizes, domesticates if you will, the experience of the cross.
Jesus described himself as the Son of God and the Son of Man. Historically, theologians throughout the ages struggled to find ways of describing the nature of Jesus as being fully God and fully man, as opposed to half of each. Jesus, fully God and fully man. When it comes to good Friday, we fixate on his efforts as fully God to the detriment of Jesus, the man.
Jesus the man, brings discomfort. The gospel narrative clearly demonstrate his humanity. His suffering, his dreams, his disappointments, and his desire to live. Jesus was perfectly obedient in God, the father in every way, which brought redemption and restoration to all of creation, but along his journey there was struggle, agony, and pain along with real joy, life-giving faith, and healing.
To celebrate our faith is to celebrate a relationship, not just events. Faith has an object and it is not itself. The object of Christian faith is Jesus. Therefore, in order to celebrate him, we first need to identify with his experiences as the incarnation (God made human) was about God identifying with us. This means embracing Jesus' humanity as well as his divinity.
So today, while you may tempted to celebrate the theological consequences of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross (which is worthy of celebration), go deeper and celebrate Jesus, the Son of man as well. Do not gloss pass his real pain, his deep sorrow, his incredible courage in the face of horrific fear, and public shame. I am convinced, that we can not appreciate the vastness of the love of the Son of God, unless we fully appreciate the incredible suffering of the Son of man. Not just on a physical realm, but the holistic suffering in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms.
Reflective on this Good Friday. Sadness in my heart but I have the privilege of knowing that Sunday is coming.
Pastor M Traylor