Good Friday

Lara Schopp Articles, Carla Aday, Senior Minister Blog

Good Friday turns our attention to the holy mystery of a crucified God. We ponder why God would send love to earth in human form only to let him die as a common criminal. The big theological questions loom on Good Friday as we remember the passion of Jesus and the pain of the cross. My attention shifted in recent months as I read a fictional account of what those last hours of Jesus’ life might have felt like from Jesus’ perspective. Amelie Nothomb wrote THIRST which focuses more on the human side of Jesus. It’s a first-person reflection completely imagined. Crucifixion is more than an intellectual challenge but also an emotionally engaging story.

In the book’s opening scene Jesus looks out and sees those who were at his first miracle when he turned water into wine, along with all those he miraculously healed. It made me wonder, where were all those people Jesus had literally saved when it came time for him to be condemned? One of the most moving scenes is when Jesus is forced to carry his own cross. He staggers under the “monstrous weight” of it and isn’t sure he can take one more step dragging it. He even thinks that feeling the nails go through his hands will not be as painful as hauling this up the hill. But then, out of the blue, comes Simon to help him carry the cross. Jesus is stunned and elated, “It suddenly feels as if the cross doesn’t weigh a thing.” Jesus sees Simon as a friend who miraculously takes away the most inhuman part of his burden.

The book reminded me that Jesus was fully human. He knew the range of emotions you and I know — from unimaginable joy to excruciating pain. He knew the fullness of love among friends and the despair of betrayal by a loved one. He knew anger and laughter. And like us, he needed a friend or a stranger to reach out and show compassion, to help carry the cross.

People in Ukraine are sleeping in the underground subway and burying comrades in unmarked graves. People in Kansas City are sleeping on the streets and living in their cars. People in our own families are bearing the burden of depression and anxiety. God does not call us to sacrifice our lives on a cross. But God could use a friend to help carry the cross.

Grace and peace,