He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from whom others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. – Isaiah 53:3
The thing about Good Friday is not that it’s the day when the worst imaginable thing happened.
The thing about Good Friday is that it’s a day when an utterly normal thing happened. Occupation, colonization, execution, forcible penetration, miscarriages of justice, the collusion of state and religion, betrayal for money, public execution, mothers watching their sons be killed, suffering, tears. In human history and in the world today, these things are the norm, not the exception.
Some of us live life in a time and place, and with enough privilege, that we can pretend this isn’t true much of the time. But Good Friday refuses to let anyone hide their faces from it. On Good Friday, you can’t look away from the pain of the world. For those who can pretend peace much of the time, Good Friday is a helpful if painful dose of truth in otherwise often delusional lives.
Some of us, on the other hand, live every day with a deep-down awareness of how normal, or at least common, Good Friday violence is. The story of Good Friday feels pretty much like the story of last Tuesday. For those who need no reminders of the painfulness of existence, Good Friday offers something else: Easter. The end of the story. The promise that somehow, some way, God is planning to turn the world upside down and pull life out of death. A little hope.
Some of us want to look away from that occupied cross because we’re too pampered to handle the truth. Some of us look away because we’re tired of seeing it every day on the streets and in our homes. Good Friday grabs us firmly by the chins and refuses to let us turn our heads away. But it will let us raise our eyes just a bit to the hills beyond the cross, where Easter is just about to appear.
Crucified God, don’t let me look away. But grant me a vision of a better future, too.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.