Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Reflections on Good Friday

with 6 comments

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day Christians observe Jesus’s crucifixion.  It can be a very depressing day, partly because the idea of anyone being crucified for any reason is abhorrent, mostly because Jesus is adjudged one of the best people who’ve ever walked the face of the Earth even by most non-Christians.  (Of course, Jesus is seen as the Son of God by Christians.)  But he died via crucifixion, in agony, despite his goodness/divinity.

Yet for whatever reason, most non-priests would rather speak of Easter than Good Friday.  Granted, Easter is a much easier holiday to speak of as it’s a day of celebration, forgiveness, and hope.  (I wrote about Easter last year.)  It’s a day that should be celebrated.  But we also need to consider the importance of the day that preceded Easter — the day made Easter possible.  That day is Good Friday, one of the worst days in the history of the world . . . the day the Son of God was “cut down to size” and forced to endure horrible suffering, then death, mostly because the politicians of his time were afraid of him.

Without getting too much into Jesus’s story (that’s for the Bible to tell, not me), I believe the reason we still observe Good Friday is because as a people, we cannot believe that perhaps the best person ever created was treated this terribly.  Most religions, aside from Judaism, see Jesus, bare minimum, as a very good man: for example, some Buddhists see Jesus as a bodhisattva — someone who’s delayed his entry into the positive afterlife because he knows people alive on Earth need his help.**  Others see Jesus as an important prophet, even if not the very last Son of God; the religions who see Jesus this way include the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) and all branches of the Muslim faith (including my favorite branch, the Sufis).

That the politicians of that time could see Jesus, a very, very good man who helped others and went out of his way to do so, as some sort of threat to themselves still rings true 2,000 years later.  That even the Son of God could be treated this way, with such callous cruelty, does not sit well with anyone of any reputable faith. 

The good news is, we haven’t forgotten what happened to Jesus, and others like him (many other Christian and non-Christians).  And because we haven’t forgotten, such terrible things as crucifixions became less common in the Western World within decades, then nearly extinct within a few hundred years.

Of course,  the fact that Jesus was killed in this particular fashion — the most revolting, scary, dishonorable death known to the ancient world — resonated with anyone who heard it as the disgusting, disgraceful act that it was, which might be why crucifixion eventually died out.  (Yes, Emperor Constantine I abolished it throughout the Roman Empire in 337 due to his faith in Jesus.  But many others were disquieted by it before Constantine took his first breath, otherwise Constantine wouldn’t have been able to outlaw this form of punishment.)

Christians view what Jesus did as transforming the worst imaginable form of death into a sacred thing.  Jesus took the pain of the world on his shoulders (and hands, and feet), and was able to largely keep from bitterness.  Then, he was cut down from the cross and laid in a tomb.

Jesus died on the cross and is said, by Christians, to have saved everyone else who believes in Him from sin, and that is a weighty message indeed.  But to put it in plainer, more secular, terms, we should try not to lose hope no matter how bad things are.  Because no matter how bad we think it is, there’s always the possibility something better can happen.  Which is why the death, and resurrection, of Jesus Christ should be of interest even to non-Christians.

———

** Please excuse this very rough way of looking at Buddhism; while I know better, I can’t seem to explain it any better than this.  My late husband Michael was a Buddhist, and my late best friend, Jeff, admired Buddhism also . . . I’m sure they’d do a better job explaining Buddhist views on Jesus, but I hope this will serve.

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Written by Barb Caffrey

April 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

6 Responses

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  1. Good Friday is an interesting day, and I think many people forget the fact that there are two sides of the coin. Jesus suffered. It doesn’t matter by whose hands, it was written in the scriptures, yet it doesn’t seem to ease the torment that happened in the mean time. It is “normal” to mourn Jesus’ suffering during this difficult time, as for the Christians, he suffered to save our souls. Each and every one, and not for His own self.

    On the other hand, had Jesus NOT suffered, and eventually died, we may not understand how to have faith even in times of trial, and here we have the perfect example of keeping faith even when everything else seems to fail us. And IN His death, we have everlasting life, so it is a celebration of more yet to come, similar to the positive effects of Christmas yet to come in the Christmas Carol.

    So, what are we to do? Are we to mourn, because of the physical suffering? Or celebrate because we have a place in Heaven thanks to the crucifixion and what leads us to Easter? This is where the African American churches of this country has the right idea. They seem to inherently understand the double sidedness of this event. While no one wants suffering, the fact that one person can bring a whole planet to the next level is something to celebrate for our kind, and are grateful.

    I really think that the concept is interesting to Christians and non-Christians alike, because while Christmas, the birth of Christ is a normal occurrence around the world (many have midwives, and of course 3rd world countries have it worse than stables), yet this whole idea of dying and then rising from the dead is just a concept that is difficult to understand, much less wrap our heads around it.

    It’s a spiritual labyrinth of sorts, and often leads us to contemplate.

    likamarie

    April 8, 2012 at 1:02 am

    • I agree, Lika. I think in that duality there’s much to inspire thought. And that whole issue of duality, in and of itself, reminds me very much of Zen Buddhism — at least as far as seeing what you’ve called “both sides” of the coin. This is why I said that bare minimum, I thought most Buddhists would consider Jesus a bodhisattva — Jesus suffered and died because he didn’t want anyone else to endure the same fate, and stayed longer than he strictly had to in order to help enlighten others.

      Every bit of your comment here should be studied by theologians, as they mostly miss the point, at least in their public sermons, that you’ve grasped so cogently.

      Thank you again for your thoughtful and informative response; I enjoyed it very much.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2012 at 2:00 am

      • Enlightenment is always a good thing. 🙂

        likamarie

        April 13, 2012 at 3:45 am

  2. A reflection from:

    http://efren-poetryandmore.blogspot.com

    Read: [Matthew 27:31]

    Title: They led him away

    Foreigners and slaves condemned to death had to be dragged to the cross. Not so the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of those who put their trust in him for their salvation:

    He was led away without any struggle, which was unusual because sheep are usually led as a flock.

    He was led away or in reality the Lord Jesus led the way to the cross for believers to follow in his footsteps of sacrifice if needed be.

    Efren agbulos, Baptist preacher (Manila, Philippines)
    DLSU-Taft, UST, Asia Baptist Bible College ‘95

    efren agbulos

    April 8, 2012 at 7:17 am

    • Well put, Efren. I’m glad to see at least one cleric understands this . . . though as Lika said, there are ministers in the African-American churches who also “get it.” (Maybe more of them understand it than I think; if so, it wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong about something.)

      I enjoyed what you said here and will do my best to check out your blog in the not-so-distant future. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by.

      Barb Caffrey

      April 8, 2012 at 11:10 pm

  3. Reblogged this on Barb Caffrey's Blog and commented:

    I wrote this back in 2012, but it still reflects my thoughts on Good Friday, and why Western culture still finds it meaningful. See what you think.

    Barb Caffrey

    March 25, 2016 at 6:38 am


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