In my mind, our society is obsessed with winning, victory, and conquering adversity. I think our Christian culture is obsessed with the Resurrection. Jesus wins. Jesus the victor. Jesus, the conquerer of death. All good and great and true, but it doesn’t mean a damn thing if Good Friday had not happened. Jesus loses. Jesus is the victim. Jesus was conquered—even if temporarily—by death. Why is the Resurrection the very substance of our hope? Because, first, he came and he died. Focusing on the Resurrection at the expense of the Cross is focusing on the American obsession.
Jesus willingly went to the cross, willingly lost, willingly gave in to adversity. And he did it to raise those who did and would believe in him, as Son of God, up. Sacrifice at the core is the emptying of self so that others may be filled. And God in His Son emptied himself so that we may be filled, saved, and adopted into His family, His kingdom.
When that curtain tore, that sound was also the sound of history tearing apart. Nothing would ever be the same and, yet, dishearteningly, every bit the same. However, now suffering, pain, grief, depression, abuse, suicide, etc. had an object in which to identify and reconstruct life and being. The cross with the Son of God going to the grave gave all of the shit in that happens in this world meaning. When that gun is in our mouth, we look to the Divine suicide of Jesus on the Cross. When we find ourselves the victims of evil abuses, we look to the Christ who took all of our abuses. When we find ourselves in grief, we focus on the mysterious moment when Jesus descended into hell and there was a tear in the relationship between the Trinity. Perfect, harmonious intimacy, community and love broken apart on the Cross. Christ fully identifies with us in every moment of our being as we live in a broken and sin-stained world.
The fullness of the descent must, too, be understood by every person in coming to faith in Christ. We must be emptied, like Christ, in order to see our need, in order to be filled by the sheer grace that is free for us, but ever so costly to God. Every believer must go through Good Friday and the in-between day before they can see, savor and taste the victory that Christ won for us. That Christ won for us. We didn’t win this. He did. Good Friday, in this day and age and culture, may be even more important to emphasize than the Resurrection.
We currently live in the days of Good Friday. We believe that the Resurrection truly was a historical and spiritual victory, but we don’t know the fullness, the sweetness of it yet. We are still in the days of bitter herbs preserving our wrapped bodies as we wait for heaven to break through the death and sin-rattled world that we all know. The Resurrection gives substance to our hope, but Good Friday gives substance to everyday living. It gives meaning and focus in the midst of hard living. In the midst of sin, abuse, violence, and all other natural acts of humanity, we look to Christ on the Cross and we are assured that it is not all for naught.
He came, He died…
I’ve got to crucify myself if I am gonna believe you
I’ve got to promise that I’ll finish all the things I said
I’d do to begin with too
I’ve got to make my bed if I am gonna lay with you
‘Cause a disaster’s a disaster
No matter what Christian language you drag it through