Good Friday is the Ultimate Contradiction

Here’s a post I wrote for Signs of Contradiction:

Today is the ultimate contradiction. It’s Good Friday. Why good? Why isn’t it called bad? How can we possibly say that the day on which a man whom we believe to be God in the flesh, was nailed–impaled through the wrists and feet with spikes–to a cruciform piece of wood standing vertically above the ground, was good? After 3 hours of excruciating pain, involving pushing up on his nerve pierced wounds in order to breathe, he died. Doesn’t sound good at all does it? Sounds like the triumph of darkness–how is this Friday “good” by any stretch of the imagination?

And then, another question arises. Why would God undergo such suffering at the hands of the wicked? Those who saw the disfigured man hanging from the accursed tree must have thought to themselves, “surely he wasn’t who he said he was, otherwise he could be delivered from this.” They voiced their objections with the taunting words, “If he is the Son of God, let him come down from the cross.” It was bad enough for a prophet of God to die like that, but God himself? Crucifixion was the sign of total and utter defeat. Is it fitting for a powerful God to subject himself to such humiliation and torture, and at the hands of his own creatures? He worked miracles, they said it was by the power of demons. He preached love and mercy, he was hated and nailed to a cross. By all standards, the Good Friday event seems to be a complete failure.

But out of darkness comes the great dawn, out of the pain of childbirth comes the joy of a child come into the world. Why did God allow the worst evil, deicide, the murder of God Himself, to occur? In order to bring a greater good out of it. On the Cross, Jesus took sin and death upon himself, and by doing so, did away with them. Because it was God who died on Good Friday, death died. If death could dare to swallow up Life Himself, only one thing could happen: death would be destroyed from the inside out. It sounds like a contradiction to say that God died, and yet that’s exactly what happened. To be sure, God always existed. However, because Jesus Christ is God-made-man, God experienced death. Jesus absorbed death and hatred with his love and life. So, out of the worst thing that ever happened came the best thing that ever happened. No longer can we say, “does God know what it’s like for me to suffer?” And that’s why it is called Good Friday.

Is it weakness on the part of God to descend to the depths of human misery? Quite the opposite. Good Friday is the sign of God’s Almighty Power. As the Servant of God, Bishop Fulton Sheen once said (and I paraphrase), “It is human to come down from the cross, but it is Divine to hang there.”

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