Good Friday: what a strange and contradictory name. It’s a phrase that encapsulates the mystery of God’s kingdom. The way up is the way down. Glory comes in death. Evil’s greatest triumph is the moment of its own undoing. Our greatest good comes in Christ’s greatest sacrifice. Words seem to fall short of just how mysterious and paradoxical this day really is.
Today’s readings, however, aren’t really about words at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Today is a moment of breathing out, exhaling in silence as we remember the profound sacrifice of Jesus. As we contemplate the cross today, words fall terribly short of capturing the magnitude of what Christ endured. In fact, when Peter tries to use words, he ends up filling the air with promises he can’t fulfill. “Will you really lay down your life for me?” Jesus asks in return, knowing the answer is “no.”
When it comes to times of trial, my tendency is to try and make quick sense of what I see. Any difficulty or pain that comes my way, I’m looking for the silver lining, trying to find the way that God might redeem it in my future. I’ve learned to soften the blow of pain by fast-forwarding the tape and focusing on how God will use it to transform. But today, as I read these scriptures, I’m taken aback by Lamentations 3:26-29:
“…it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man to bear the yoke
while he is young.
Let him sit alone in silence,
for the Lord has laid it on him.
Let him bury his face in the dust—
there may yet be hope.”
Today, in the space between destruction and resurrection, we’re called to stillness. Not to interject our own interpretations or anticipations of Easter’s joy, but to just sit in the moment and try to take in all that Christ has sacrificed. When we really ponder it, Good Friday is breath taking. It should leave us without words, stupefied by the magnitude of what Christ bore on our behalf.
So for the next twenty-four hours, my prayer is that I will remember Christ’s death not as a stepping-stone to an Easter celebration, but in the fullness it deserves. I don’t want to tie the “bow” too quickly, but instead want to let the ribbon lay unraveled. I want to carve out time and simply sit in front of the cross, remembering the unbearable burden that Christ endured.
The time for rejoicing will come. The time for being astounded at God’s miraculous plan of redemption is only days away. But for now, let’s just reflect on the cross and ask God to meet us in the silence.
When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.
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.
Were the whole realm of nature mine
that were an offering far too small
love so amazing, so divine
demands my soul, my life, my all.