Reliving the story of the Passion of Christ for the third time this year is like being Bill Murray in his movie "Groundhog Day." He wakes up every morning and it is the same lousy day all over again. He knows just what will happen, and he won't like it. It is difficult for me to relive the awful events of what was perhaps the most evil, unjust deed ever done on the face of the earth.
And yet they call it Good Friday. I once heard a preacher say it wasn't called "good" because it was enjoyable or, from his killers' point of view, a morally good deed. Of course it was the opposite of those. Maybe I dislike re-reading this story because I want to look at life through the lens of enjoyment and people treating each other well.
The preacher went on to say that it is called Good Friday because the work of the cross is beneficial. It is good for us, in the same way that radical surgery and unrelenting chemotherapy are good for us because they are the ONLY THING that can kill cancer. I know I am repeating myself from a previous synoptic gospel entry, but as Paul notes later on in the New Testament, some ideas are worth repeating.
Where do I see myself in this story?
The Centurion, praising God and saying "surely this was a righteous man?" (47)
A member of the crowd who witnessed everything, beat my breast, and walked away? (48)
A mocker urged on by a demon to yell "if you are the son of God save yourself?"
A woman and a follower, standing at a distance and watching? (49)
None of them really resonate. The guy that I relate to most is hanging on cross next to Jesus. He has been caught doing something awful. He is repentant. He feels unworthy hanging there next to this good and godly man, and with an eye on the next life he says, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he hears those words of freedom and joy: "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
Jesus, what a friend to sinners, let me find my rest in thee.