Christians call today Good Friday. Why?
By Janet Stobie
Every year I struggle anew with our Christian interpretation of the Biblical story of Easter. Through research and biblical study of the “Old Testament”, the Hebrew Bible, I have learned that people in Jesus’ time believed that pleasing God required the sacrifice of animals. Jesus focused his teaching on a loving God. Therefore, his followers interpreted Jesus’ crucifixion as the one supreme sacrifice, the one perfect sacrifice. Never again would sacrifice be required to appease God.
I cannot understand our loving God as requiring the crucifixion of Jesus in order to love us. In James Taylor’s book, “Last Chance”, he speaks of the last week of Jesus’ life as Jesus’ intentional act of love for humanity. Our Christian story tells us that during his last meal Jesus broke bread and washed the feet of his friends, even Judas, the one who would betray him. Even as he writhed on the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness to a thief and prayed for forgiveness for his torturers.
For me, God in Jesus, showed us that the worst we could do, torture and kill God as a human being, would not destroy God’s love for us. For me, today is “Good Friday” because God loved all of creation, every living thing, every human being, so much that God allowed us to do our absolute worst and still God loves us. Yes, God weeps. Yes, God writhes with pain when we sin, when we destroy the earth, when we destroy one another but God’s love is not defeated. Even before we admit our atrocities, even before we say we’re sorry, God has already died for us.
I believe that God can bring goodness out of anything. Every time as humans we destroy another human being, whether physically, emotionally or socially, we commit the atrocity of the crucifixion of Jesus. Still God works to bring new life for us.
This morning’s reading in my Lenten Study book “Rising with the Morning Star”, reminded me of a scientific fact. Six billion years ago, the ocean began with volcanic explosions. From the violence and destruction of volcanic eruptions, God created the ocean, earth’s fundamental source of life. Of course, today is Good Friday, God’s Friday, the source of new life.