A Paradox of Faith
It’s an oddness, don’t you think, that we call today “Good Friday”? After all, today commemorates a man’s death, and death on a cross at that. Crucifixion is probably one of the most horrible things humanity ever devised. As if a slow, agonizing death from dehydration or shock or sheer pain and exhaustion weren’t enough, the condemned were usually raised alongside a road as a warning to others. It was a brutal and humiliating practice with only one ending, and we mark this practice with a “Good” day.
How strange we are, we Christians.
It’s from this day that we take the principal icon of our faith. We hang miniature versions of this implement of torturous degradation around our necks and on our walls. We put them in our children’s rooms and in their hands. 2,000 years ago we would have been regarded as mad, or worse. It’s like basing an entire way of life around the electric chair. And yet, that is the great paradox of our faith and of God. He took an idea dredged up from the muck of human evil and made it into a symbol of hope. Through death, that greatest of human fears, He redefined history and extended the promise of eternal life.
Make no mistake about it, Jesus was fully man. He died an awful, painful death. He was also, however, fully God, and so conquered death in our name, for our sakes. On that Friday, when the crucifixion was over, it was no different from any other execution…until Sunday happened. From then on everything was different, and that made for a good day for us all.