Have you ever wondered what the mother of Barabbas thought, felt or wondered when her son was released and Jesus was condemned? If there is a universal character that represents all of us in the Good Friday story it is Barabbas…we have all been acquitted, set free from our sentence of death because Jesus went to the cross in our place…
Good Friday is the day we remember that life often has dark encounters where we are left wondering if God is real, kind, involved or aware.
Good Friday dares to combat our need to have life tied up in neat little bows…to always have happy endings…to ride off into the sunset…instead, it creates the sacred art of waiting….the holy transformation of not knowing…the necessity for all who follow Jesus to embrace the dark night of the soul where we learn the divine language of silence.
Jesus reminds us that in this world we will have trouble…He doesn’t say, “But if you believe in me I will make sure you experience zero troubles or pain!” No…he simply says ‘don’t be afraid of what you will face…trust me.’
But trusting God is hard when you are experiencing a Good Friday…”where are you God? Don’t you know what’s going on? Don’t you care?”
Like Pilate, sometimes we make choices that are pressured and forced. While we want to wash our hands of painful outcomes, we know deep inside that there is blood on them no matter how hard we try to justify our decisions…we are experiencing Good Friday.
Like Mary Magdalene…perhaps we have been helped, healed and transformed. Our life has been pulled from the gutter. Grace has invaded our world and for the first time we feel that we were valuable, needed even wanted. Our life is changing, our choices are evolving in healthier ways, our existence is becoming significant which is no small thing…and then we run into Good Friday…all seems lost…all seems hopeless…was it all a joke? Just another religious thing? The divine silence is so loud you could cut it with a knife…where are you God?…we are experiencing Good Friday.
Like Peter…perhaps we have been rescued and loved over and over again…we have received grace after grace yet we still put our foot in our mouth. When it mattered most, as someone was asking about our faith in Jesus, we froze…afraid of what they might think of us…afraid of how His name might affect our reputation or status…and in that defining moment, we deny Him, divert the conversation, bail on the one who always bails us out…and we feel the darkness of Good Friday surrounding our heart…Jesus, I’m sorry…
In different ways, by our words and by our actions our voice has joined the ancient chorus shouting crucify, crucify, crucify.
While we long to quickly jump from Good Friday to resurrection Sunday and shout “He is Risen” at the top of our lungs…Jesus asks us to stay here a while, to linger and suffer with Him…it is our own Gethsemane…but will we stay awake with Him just for a little while?
I think the images of Good Friday are flowing from the heart of the Apostle Paul as he says “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Phil 3:10)
The reason why Good Friday is so important is because we can never truly enter into the full Joy of Easter Sunday until we have embraced the absolute emptiness, and despair of Good Friday…We will never exude joy until we have encountered a necessary grace born on the dark night.
Good Friday centers me on the truth that things are never as they seem…it might be Friday…things might be confusing and dark…but God is always up to something, and Sunday is coming..
Here’s a great hymn to close out my thoughts…
Alas and Did My Savior Bleed
1. Alas! and did my Savior bleed,
and did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
for sinners such as I?
2. Was it for crimes that I have done,
he groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
3. Well might the sun in darkness hide,
and shut its glories in,
when God, the mighty maker, died
for his own creature’s sin.
4. Thus might I hide my blushing face
while his dear cross appears;
dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
and melt mine eyes to tears.
5. But drops of tears can ne’er repay
the debt of love I owe.
Here, Lord, I give myself away;
’tis all that I can do.
I read a secular novel called “Barabbus” that portrayed him as having a rather nasty case of “survivor’s guilt” after his pardon. I can’t remember how it ends, but I think he does experience some form of redemption in the end.
Nicely done Monty and I needed to hear this message. Thanks for writing it and passing on its encouragement.