I guess Good Friday (the day of the crucifixion and death of Jesus) is good because of the theology that developed – that His suffering and death somehow pays for our sins. Or as Mark’s Gospel interprets, the death led to personal immediate access to God: “And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom” (Mark 5:38).
The temple liturgies and the priests are no longer needed. No need for intermediaries. The suffering on the cross brought on direct communication. And that is good news.
But as I read Mark’s account of the arrest, trial, and execution, I can’t help but think of the mob who attacked the nation’s capital on the 6th of January, the Day of Epiphany. The mob is all stirred up. They yell, “Crucify him!” over and over. They want Barabbas (a rebel who committed murder during an insurrection) freed. There is mocking, spitting, humiliating, and taunting. An angry violent mob full of hate, irrationality, and misinformation. Sound familiar?
There is something about a crowd that can bring out the worst in human nature. Many books have been written about this subject. While we need community and miss it terribly right now in the pandemic, I want to speak out in favor of independent thought, prayer, and discernment.
A big part of the impulse of the Protestant Reformation was free thinking outside the institution of the Roman Catholic Church. To read the Bible in one’s own language on one’s own without commentary or interpretations. To pray directly to the Almighty. To come to conclusions or form doubts or insights through independent contemplation. To have the courage to stand alone and not worry so much about the opinions of others.
Perhaps this is another reason Good Friday is good. Jesus stood alone against Pilate and the mob. He held his ground. He trusted that His Father was with him through it all even as the mob spit on him and jeered at him while nailed to a cross. This is more than an inspirational role model. This is the Son of God showing us the way.
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, help us to find and hold strongly to that deep quiet center within ourselves where we can do your will no matter the cost. Amen.