Good Friday :: Crucify! Crucify Him!

The tree is empty

Well here we are, shovels at the ready, eager to see this man-who-would-be-king dead and buried.

And yet, how can we—how can I—still cry out for blood when he is there, silent? He says nothing. At least he doesn’t respond to our taunts and vilification. In the grip of pain and agony his concern is not for revenge—after all, at any time he could’ve called on God to stop all this and rain down fire from heaven. His concern is for his mother, that she be taken care of. He asks for a little something to assuage his thirst. Aside from his last words, "It is finished," this is all he says.

But he needn’t say much. His actions make him known. This innocent, sacrificial Lamb of God, has taken away the sins of the world. He forgives even those who killed him. And as difficult as it may be to understand why his death affected this forgiveness of sin, something much more is going on.

For you see, not only does Jesus take away the guilt of our sin—of my sin—Jesus also takes away my need to shame others for their sin.

And this is perhaps the most difficult part of accepting Jesus’ death on the cross: We must forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us. And this must mean that we no longer hold others in contempt for the sins they have committed. We must no longer lord it over them, making others pay the price a hundred fold for the wrongs they may have committed. We must no longer say, "I can forgive you, but I will not forget." For in our refusal to forget, we constantly remind—we constantly shame—those who have hurt us through their sin. And if we continue to shame—if we continue to remember the sin—we are not forgiving.

Jesus takes the shame from all of us and bears it himself, so that we no longer need be burdened by its weight. The contempt with which those who would have Jesus killed—CRUCIFY HIM! CRUCIFY HIM!—is met with compassion, love, and forgiveness. And we who have stood with those who want him dead [shovels in hand] need no longer bear the shame of our own guilt.

No wonder we call this Friday, Good. Thanks be to God.

Link to RCL Lectionary for Good Friday

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