Good Friday is a sobering day. Like on the day to which it refers, life just carries on around an event which transformed the world. A man dies on a gallows planted in the rubbish tip outside the city where the smell is foul and polite society doesn’t have to watch.
Good Friday is also a challenge to those who celebrate it most fervently. It was the religious keenies who crucified Jesus – who cried for his blood but let the politicians do the dirty deed. What a waste. What a sad end to a transient dream.
Or was it?
Jesus was clear that he was fulfilling what had always been the vocation of Israel: to lay down his life in order that the world might see who and how God is. So easy to get this wrong. So seductive to turn the vocation to give your life into one that tells you you deserve to live your life, whatever the cost to everyone else.
So, Jesus refused to save his life, but to give it away – and thus to show that God’s way of power is to open your arms to a world that will happily nail you. Not a clenched fist, but nailed hands and feet. This is your God: one who gives himself away, subject to all the ridicule and humiliation the world can throw at him.
And this is what this God calls his people to be. If the church is ‘the body of Christ’, then presumably the church (in its life, praxis, commitment to the world and its priorities/values) should look something like the Jesus we read about in the Gospels? One, that is, who poses a radical challenge to the way the world around sees God, the world and us.
Sunday might be coming, but we had better stick with Friday until we have grasped (or been grasped by) the need to recover our vocation: to look like the Jesus we read about in the Gospels. I want to move on to something less painful – I don’t like violence – but that is the temptation to be resisted today.