Thursday, March 29, 2018

Good Friday not explained in a few short words

Good Friday, it’s complicated.  I’ll keep this short.  No matter what you’ve heard from whoever you heard it, Jesus’s crucifixion is not the work of an angry God punishing him for the sins of humanity.  Called the substitutionary doctrine of atonement, and popular in several denominations, it’s not true.  Never was.

Jesus’s crucifixion was the natural and quite predictable outcome of his three years of public ministry that undermined the authority of religious leaders, and subordinated Caesar to the greater authority of God alone.  Moreover, he had the effrontery to claim he was the Son of God, not like the emperors who claimed divinity, but the actual manifestation of God in human flesh.  To show him, and everybody else, that he was really a nobody, they crucified him as a criminal among criminals.


If what he said was true, that he was the source of life, had the power to forgive sins and give life, even to the dead, how could he be dead like this?  What could it mean?  Good Friday never answers that question.  It leaves it hanging.  That’s one reason liturgical traditions begin a three day service on Thursday night that does not end until Sunday morning.  Called the Triduum, these three holy days recall one event that begins with death and ends with life.  In it, the ultimate authority of God as we know God in Christ Jesus is sealed forever. 

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