This is the script of this morning's Pause for Thought on the Chris Evans Show on BBC Radio 2 with Zoe Ball.
When I was a kid in Liverpool I always felt I must be the stupid one. What could possibly be good about Good Friday? A bloke gets tortured and executed; his best friends – having sworn undying allegiance to him – all run away and leave him to the women (who obviously had stronger stomachs); then he gets buried and it all seems such a useless, tragic and embarrassing waste. He was only in his early thirties and all the raised hopes just lay bleeding in the dirt.
Not exactly for the fainthearted, is it? But, that is what Good Friday is about: Jesus of Nazareth coming to a grizzly end. That'll teach him to stand up to the authorities and to question the way the world is.
You know, the best bit about this story – the story that gives today its name – is that none of the people involved in it knew what might happen next. Jesus's friends never quite grasped what he was on about, and Jesus himself felt abandoned during his final moments.
Now, how real is that? I mean, let's not be squeamish – we've all heard on the news just now about Syria and Ukraine and the ferry tragedy in South Korea as well as other places where human suffering is all too real.
But, the story doesn't end here. Sunday is coming. And what looks like an ending is transformed into a surprising new beginning in which we are confronted at the heart of human grief with a man telling us not to be afraid. As I put it in an article recently, Easter cries out to us with the invitation to be drawn by hope and not driven by fear.
The great Leonard Cohen encourages us in one of his best songs to “give up your perfect offering; there's a crack in everything – that's how the light gets in.” He's right. And the beginning of freedom seems to come with the acceptance that all of us are cracked – or not all that we are cracked up to be.
Maybe that's why this Friday is Good. It reminds us to lose our pretensions and illusions. The story doesn't end with the cracks – Sunday is coming.