Happy Good Friday to you! I always feel awkward when I say that because I struggle to reconcile “happy” with Good Friday, when Jesus was crucified. At first glance, it seems like there’s nothing happy nor good about the day when we remember Jesus’ crucifixion.
In stark contrast to the brutality of crucifixion, Jesus is the singular man who loved humanity with pure love. Jesus is the man who lived to heal, restore, reconcile, redeem, confront for transformation and so much more. When Jesus walked the earth, from how I read the Gospels, He was simply irresistible.
However, on Good Friday, this irresistible man was murdered in the most brutal and violent method known to humanity at that time. And Jesus suffered tremendously, as demonstrated in the movie by Mel Gibson, The Passion. On Good Friday, it is fitting to consider the ways that Jesus suffered:
- In Gethsemane when He asked the Father three times to take away the suffering in front of Him and sweating like drops of blood, which demonstrates the intensity of His anguish – anticipating impending darkness.
- Betrayal from His 12 disciples at the moment tremendous tension, leaving Him alone to face unfounded accusations, beating, mocking, humiliation – abandonment from friends.
- Scourging at the hand of Roman soldiers, a bloody punishment that was nothing less than barbaric and inhuman – physical pain that exceeds description.
- Shame and embarrassment at being stripped naked to be crucified and publicly displayed – tangible shame that couldn’t be hidden.
- Crucifixion, which was the Roman method to punish and make an example of any who would dare defy Roman authority – public humiliation by unlimited exposure.
- Isolation and abandonment apparent from Jesus’ words on the cross, “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken me?” – isolation and loneliness.
So here’s some good news from all of these horrific things: Jesus understands suffering and we are invited to bring our suffering to Him and share in the fellowship of suffering with Him, based on Philippians 3:10-11. In these verses Paul writes, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
I’m bringing these verses to your attention because there is incredible intimacy potential to experience in the suffering context. In suffering, we are often vulnerable, weak, less certain or sure of ourselves, willing to receive help and less independent. When we aren’t suffering, we are frequently self-sufficient, maybe more guarded and less vulnerable, which can be obstacles for intimate connections. To be intimate, we must know the other and let ourselves be known.
Sometimes, suffering can facilitate a unique context for knowing another person or letting yourselves be known, from the vulnerability and need for help that suffering can facilitate.
So in this bizarre COVID season in which we find ourselves, we can share our suffering with Jesus and appreciate that He also suffered, massively. Sharing our suffering with Jesus along with embracing Jesus’ suffering, remembered on Good Friday, can afford us a unique experience in intimacy with Jesus.
As we remember Jesus’ suffering, let’s lean into Him when we suffer so that our intimacy and connection with Jesus will grow stronger and deeper.
To this end, happy Good Friday!