This is the script of this morning’s Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 2’s Chris Evans Show with Sara Cox. Guests included UB40 and there are four of their song titles embedded in the text.
Well, if it’s all busy busy busy in the studio this Good Friday morning – and it sounds like it is – then you’ll already understand something of what was going on during the first Good Friday.
Far from being a deeply meditative religious experience way back in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, everyone was actually going wild. There was a massive political ferment, and loads of the people hoped they were on the brink of being liberated from Roman occupation. The city was full of parties and lots of red, red wine was flowing down the throats of people crying for freedom.
It all sounds a bit familiar, doesn’t it?
Anyway, the man of the moment – and the cause of the trouble on this particular Friday – was being built up as the great saviour of the people by some, and the great enemy of the people by others. It’s a terrible position to be in, isn’t it – especially when you’ve just spent the last few years telling everyone to love each other to death. But, Jesus of Nazareth has a final meal with his hopeless mates, gets arrested while praying in a garden, then gets tried before an embarrassed judge, and, finally, gets nailed.
What a waste.
Well, the reason we call this Friday ‘good’ is not because it’s a good story; it’s because the death of this Jesus changed the world. It also changed the personal world of people who were part of it.
Jesus’s friends had just bigged themselves up: “Jesus, if they’re going to get you, they’re going to have to go through me first.” Then the big men caved in under challenge, and most of them ran away when it all got too hard. Betrayed, denied and deserted: that was how Jesus experienced Good Friday.
But, the good bit is that this wasn’t the end of the story. The misery of Friday’s crucifixion was followed by the unbearable emptiness of Saturday, but opened the way to a surprising Sunday. ‘Where did I go wrong’ becomes ‘light my fire’ when people disillusioned by their own failure discover that this isn’t the end of the story.
Good Friday? It’s a labour of love.