Many years ago I asked my dad one Good Friday why it was called Good Friday. His answer remains the bedrock of my life ‘Because Jesus Died that day’. Why should such an event give rise to the name Good and not Bad I asked in a rather less sophisticated way as a child. ‘Why is it not Bad Friday and Good Sunday?’. I found a great quote over at Blogs4God which reminded me of how I felt all those years ago.
I would add to it though that the primary reason for the cross is our sin (which he does hint at in the first paragraph but does not return to in the rest of his post. We sent Jesus to the cross yes, but he chose to go there to bear the punishment you and I deserved. We go free whilst he is bound and blindfolded. We are let off whilst he is condemned. We are declared righteous, he is made to BE sin. We are healed he is wounded. We are loved, he is rejected. We are reconcilled to God, he is abandoned by him. God looks on us and smiles, and turns out the lights so he doesnt have to look on him. We know peace he receives the full wrath of God. He dies bearing millions of eternities of pain in one moment, and millions of us live for eternity.
O Yes, the Cross is indeed a scandal. , but it is a scandal of unfairness and apparent injustice. The hardest question a Christian can ever attempt to answer is how can a righteous God have come up with such a plan (which would seem to lead to instant defrocking if any modern judge tried it!). Paul spends much of his writings attempting to answer just this (especially Romans) Why not read some of it today?
The Cross is a scandal. We recoil from the horror of it, the shame and humiliation of it. We want the shout of victory, and hear instead the cry of desolation, “My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” It would be more bearable if the Cross were a result of the actions of the recognisably evil – brigands, outlaws, villains. But we see Jesus brought to his Passion by the respectable ordinary religious folk and those who led them, their cry of “Crucify him!” the result of their zeal. In the shouting crowd we can see ourselves. So we shun the weakness of the Cross, and enquire with the mocking crowd why he cannot save himself and come down from the cross.
Even in the Church we are tempted to think of the Cross as a place of defeat – we can only call it “Good Friday” because we know what is to happen on Sunday. But that is a deep and profound misunderstanding of the Cross.
The Cross is not a defeat, not even a defeat turned to victory by the Resurrection. The Cross of Jesus Christ is a victory in and of itself. At the cross all the powers of evil are dissgraced and disarmed. The love of God is tested to its ultimate by our rejection and yet it refuses to draw back, to come down from the Cross. Here at the Cross God stretches out his arms in an embrace which would envelope the whole world. Only our own perversity can keep us from him.