HOPE(04): on the darkest day
We are in a time of year that is sprinkled with largely overlooked days having obscure names like Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday and Palm Sunday. Although they may show up on our calendars, they receive smaller billing and tend to serve only as reminders that the headliner event, Easter, is drawing near. One of these days seems conspicuously misnamed—Good Friday.
For those who experienced that day up close, there was nothing “good” about it. It was a day saturated with brutality, fear and confusion. Their world had literally grown dark and the ground beneath their feet had trembled. I wonder if some felt foolish for having placed all of their hopes on the one who now hung in public shame on the outskirts of town. I wonder if some who had been delivered from demons now feared their return. Perhaps some recalled a better time when they watched a young girl return from the dead and gasp her first breath of air. Maybe others remembered a blind man blinking with astonishment as his first sight of life was the face of Jesus. There were many other Fridays that were good, but not this one.
Firsthand accounts describe a scene of chaos among the followers of the dead rabbi—running, hiding, fearing for their lives. There was no apparent “good” on that day. It was a day of despair—a day when all hope was lost.
On that day, the central feature was a cruel instrument of death—an effective tool for the execution of criminals. The cross was a common sight throughout the Roman Empire. But that day was different and that cross unique, for on it hung the hope of the world. On that day, the drama that played out was not only an indictment of the world but a fulfillment of promises made before the foundation of the world.
On that day, sin was fully exposed in all its grotesque violence and insidious corruption. A fallen world retched evil from its deepest bowels. God unleashed His legitimate anger. His creation had been violated, poisoned with evil. On that day the earth shook with God’s deep grief, profound disappointment and unendurable hurt as a father watched his child die. The wail of God’s pain was voiced on that day.
I believe I need to linger at the base of a cross with my Redeemer still upon it and absorb the reality of what happened on that day. The Cross is proof that I’m guilty. I must resist moving past this day too quickly, for my understanding of Easter is dependent on my understanding of Good Friday.
But I also believe that the Cross is indisputable evidence that God loves me—not in a soft, tenderhearted way but with a deep, fierce, scandalous love. The Cross is tangible proof that I’m forgiven. Sin has been defeated—it’s over!
On that day, what seemed to destroy all hope was actually the fulfillment of any real hope. It was indeed Good Friday.