I’ve never liked the fact that we call the day on which we remember Jesus’ crucifixion “Good Friday.” What’s so good about it anyway? Personally I find the entirety of Holy Week – save for Easter – pretty depressing. Sure, the days are getting longer and things have started to grow all around us, but until Easter, the focus of the week is the suffering and death of an innocent man.
It turns out that, although plenty of folks have their own explanations, nobody actually knows why we call it Good Friday. I think the Germans are spot-on by calling it Karfreitag, which means “Suffering Friday.”
Figures the Germans would be more content to sit with suffering than the rest of us. They’re so serious! But I digress…
Some folks think it was originally called “God Friday,” and somehow it got changed to “Good Friday.” Seems counter-intuitive to me. Another hypothesis is that it’s “good” because Jesus was demonstrating his love for humanity by offering up his life. Or that it’s good because he had to die in order to save us from sin.
I guess it depends on your theology, but I think the crucifixion sucked. Period.Even if you believe Jesus had to die to save us from sin, why did he have to die then? Why not take on the sinfulness of all humanity on his deathbed, after a long, fruitful life of showing people the way to God? And why so brutal? I mean it’s one thing for God to allow his son to die; it’s another entirely to allow him to suffer.
It smacks of the kind of things I hear when someone dies, such as, “everything happens for a reason,” or “they’re in a better place now.” For one, to dismiss death as a good thing is to minimize the suffering of those left behind. And plus, if the afterlife is so much better, why would God subject us to this flesh-and-blood life sentence?
In a lot of my articles I like to do what I call “untying the knot.” I love to present a problem in the first part of the post, and then come to some resolution by the end. But Good Friday is itself unresolved. It’s tragic. It’s mysterious and terrible. Hitching it to the joy of Easter overlooks the darkness of what the day really represents.
No knot-untying today. Happy Good Friday.