Good Friday

I was taught that when Jesus died on the cross, that somehow he took the sin of the world upon himself and because God is righteous, and cannot stand to be near to sin, God turned God’s back of Jesus when Jesus cried out while hanging on the cross, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Crucifixion

This teaching became something I struggled with when a friend of mine told me that while reading a children’s book to his daughter it painting the same picture as above, only his daughter asked why God would turn God’s back on God’s Son. Was it because God didn’t love God’s Son? Was God angry at Jesus? Why would God turn away?

Sometimes it takes the curiosity and insight of a child who is not intimidated to ask the hard questions to reveal how destructive our own thinking can be.

How one understands Good Friday deeply shapes how one pictures God – for better or for worse.

Good Friday has become an important day for me, and the words of Jesus on the cross, “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” have been deeply comforting in my own Fridays. It is comforting because I no longer interpret this to mean that God’s back was turned and Jesus suffered alone. Think about it, what kind of picture does this paint of God?

Does God leave us when we endure our own Fridays? Does God turn God’s back every time I mess up? What about times I mess up a little? How big does my mess up need to be? If God turned God’s back on Jesus, God’s Son, how can I trust that God will be with me when I endure a crisis of my own?

If I understand Good Friday to be the day God turned God’s back on Jesus, and God did this because God can’t be close to sin, that means God’s back is turned toward me a lot of the time. This will deeply form one’s psyche and will affect the way one lives in very destructive ways!

So, what is meant when Jesus cries out on the cross? First, it has helped me to understand that Jesus was echoing a lament found in the Psalms. Psalms 22v1-2 say, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest.”

Have you ever felt this way?

This is a powerful lament filled with emotion that echo my words every time I go through a Friday of my own. Each of us has gone through our own Friday, and many of us have gone through several. In our Fridays, we endure loss, grief, pain, confusion, etc. If we are honest we all have asked two questions: “Why is this happening?” and “Where are you in the midst of this God?” This, I think, is the very heart of the Psalmists lament.

So, when Jesus cries out on the cross, “My God my God why have you forsaken me”, he is not giving a statement, but expressing a very human emotion, “God, where are you?”

Have you felt alone? Have you felt like God has rejected you, or turned away from you? Have you ever felt lost because you just didn’t understand why something was happening?

Good Friday is powerful because it reflects that Jesus felt the same way you and I do when we go through a difficult season in our lives. Jesus understands our pain, suffering, confusion, and loneliness that each of us has felt and some of us are feeling right now.

As we know though, the story doesn’t end there. Somehow, in a very mysterious way, God was working in the midst of Good Friday to bring about reconciliation. In the midst of death, God worked to bring about new life.

This is the Christian Hope. The Christian Hope then, is not that we have all the answers, or that we never falter in our faith or never doubt that God is present. The Christian Hope is that even when we feel alone, confused, lost or frustrated that somehow, in someway, God is working in the middle of all this to bring about new life.

May you experience this Hope in new and fresh ways this Good Friday.

 

4 thoughts on “Good Friday”

  1. I recall at probably the lowest moment of my life, screaming at God, “Why did You do this to me?” Thankfully, God doesn’t take this personally, and He was beside me the whole time, even when it didn’t feel that way.

    1. Ann, thanks for sharing! I have experienced several times time where I have also felt similarly. It is often easy looking back to see that God was there, but while going through a hard season it is very difficult for me to sometimes sense that God is indeed present.

  2. Nice article Aaron! I come across facebook every now and then and decided to stop by and read what you’re writing. Hope all is well!

    I like how you draw the comparison between our human emotions and the human emotions Jesus felt while he was on the earth. I believe Jesus was fully God and fully Man, and the gamut of human emotions He experienced while on this earth only allows Him to relate to us and our struggles. As Hebrews describes His High Priestliness “for we do not have High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. ” This gives me confidence that God is always with me, no matter what stupid things I do, and not only He being with me but He shared in all emotions I can feel. I believe God created emotions and that they are a beautiful thing, but He created our emotions so they can be fully realized in Him, not so we can live for ourselves.

    I also believe that it pleased God to put Jesus to death, especially if it meant the atonement and salvation of all human kind. I’m sure that is a hard thing for a child to respond to, but never the less I believe it to be truth. I could see how that would be taken out of context, i.e.. God being a God who forsakes people. But other scriptures say that Jesus endured the cross because of the joy set before him, and that he became the very sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God through Him, as well as Jesus, although fully God, did not equate Himself with God but became a servant, which led to his sacrifice. God also gave Jesus the Name above all other names, because of His obedience, and that is to serve as an example for how we should live our lives. I think its perfectly ok that we don’t fully understand why He died the way He did, heck, not even His closest followers understand even when He explained it to them. In the end the Holy Spirit came and revealed all things to them that they might have revelation. So I think the best way to understand the sacrifice and death of Jesus is to always think it as a means to an end, as well as to ask the Holy Spirit for insight into how God wants us to observe it. I can think of no one better opening up the scriptures to me then the Word Himself =)

    Man, I’m rambling, but you’ve inspired deep thought within me and I thank you! Keep up the cool articles!

    1. Mike, great to hear from you and thanks for sharing!
      I think you hit in some great points esp. the idea that people interpret the death of Jesus in different ways. I was raised to have one view of atonement (penal substitutionary atonement…big words;) and linked this view with the biblical story so that they seemed one and the same. It has helped me to see that there have been different views throughout history and today. I think this keeps us all humble, and as you said, helps us to embrace mystery! Thanks again.

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