Friday, 29 March 2013

Good Friday or Forgiveness Friday?

by Daniel Rollins

'It should be called Forgiveness Friday, not Good Friday,
there is nothing good about being crucified'  -Eve, aged 8

This profound observation from a young girl appeared on my twitter stream two days ago courtesy of a Churchplanter in Northern Ireland (the sort of person I follow on twitter). It made me think once again about what Christians ‘celebrate’ on this day and how the image of Jesus on the cross can ever be considered ‘good’.

In a controversial article in last Saturdays Guardian, Giles Fraser, liberal priest, former cannon of St. Paul's Cathedral and church polemist, criticised evangelicals who celebrate,  “the cross of Good Friday… as a moment of triumph”, claiming that this view of the events of Good Friday is, “theologically illiterate”.

There certainly are very dark moment in the Easter story, shown dramatically by Miss Meadows’ Year 9 drama group during this year’s PGS Passiontide Service: Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, the disciples’ desertion of Jesus and, finally, the shameful and agonising death of an innocent man by crucifixion. As little Eve reminds us, “there is nothing good about being crucified.” The ugly image of broken man on a cross does not seem like something to celebrate as triumphant.

Yet many Christians, myself included, continue to see the cross as a victory. In his letter to the Church in Colossae, the Apostle Paul wrote this, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities,he [Jesus] made a public spectacle of them,triumphing over them by the cross”. Paul claims that, despite the horrible nature of Jesus’ suffering and death, it was through it that he won a great victory over not only the human powers that nailed him to the cross but all the evil in the world. This is because it is through the cross that God works out his salvation for humanity; through Jesus’ sacrifice on the ugly cross that humanity can have its sins forgiven and be saved from the power of death. This is summarised in what many consider the most translated sentence ever: “For God so loved theworld, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should notperish but have eternal life.

Therefore it’s right that Christians celebrate the cross as a victory as Paul teaches but also important to remember the suffering and pain that Jesus went though as he died alone on the cross to win our salvation. The hymn writer Isaac Watts put this beautifully in his famous hymn, “When I Survey the WondrousCross”:

“See from His head, His hands, His feet, 
Sorrow and love flow mingled down! 
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, 
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?"

So should we rename Good Friday Forgiveness Friday, remembering the forgiveness Jesus gave us through his death? Or should we keep it Good Friday as we see the beauty of the victory Christ won for us? Please respond in the comments.

Daniel is a leader of the PGS Christian Union which meets every Thursday at 1:10 in the BCSC meeting room. All are welcome.

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