Walter Mencken 6:15 p.m., Feb. 28
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What's So Good About "Good Friday"?
"Believe in Me and send no money/ I died on the cross--that ain't funny!" --Iron Maiden, from "Holy Smoke"
Today starts the holiest weekend in the Christian liturgical year...Easter Weekend. Today is the mis-named "Good Friday," when Jesus met his fate on Golgotha, crucified on orders of Pontius Pilate (and at the urging of a bunch of self-righteous Zealots). Tomorrow is Holy Saturday, and Sunday--Easter Day, where Jesus rose from the dead.
Whomever named today "Good Friday" must have been downing the sacremental vino like it was Ripple or Bartyle's & Jame's! there is nothing that is good when a man like Jesus of Nazareth is put to death on the cross like a convicted Roman slave.
That's right! You see, back in Roman times, crucifixion was a punishment reserved for slaves. And I can tell you this...it was a horrid way to meet your maker.
First, you were scourged with a flagellum. This was a multi-strand leather whip, studded with metal balls or sharp pieces of bone. the scourging went on until you were a bloody mess. Sometimes, more than skin was torn out of you.
Then you were made to carry the upper part of the cross to the place of execution. In Jerusalem, the Romans conducted their crucifixions at Golgotha, which translated as "The Place Of The Skulls"...after marching the condemned (and their burden) through Jerusalem's streets.
Then, after unlimbering your load, you were laid out on the cross. large nails were driven into your wrists, and through the tops of your feet. After you were nailed to the cross, it was raised, and a sign detailing your crime was nailed above your head.
Death came slowly, through starvation, exposure, and sometimes the idle sadsism of the guard detail. Your body pulled against the nails, pulling your already-raw back against the wood of the cross. Often, the guards would break the condemned's legs with an iron bar, to hasten their demise.
It was a slow, nasty, and very pain-filled death. Christ was crucified as a show of humiliation. Indeed, many preachers who support capital punishment use this to support their view. "He could have gotten out of this horror--but chose to go through with it." goes their "reasoning."
However, Jesus was not the only one of his flock who died so horridly. St. Andrew met his death on a "X"-shaped cross. Many other Disciples also died for their Lord. St. Paul (beheaded) was another.
Definitely NOT a GOOD FRIDAY for Jesus of Nazareth, nor for his followers...then and now. We are, indeed, reminded of this today, the last day of Lent. It also tells us that Easter is a coming the day after tomorrow...when Jesus, indeed, told Death to take a hike and arose in glory!
Out of the sadness of today, we are, indeed, reminded that out of the darkest of times will come a light bright enough to banish it! You don't have to be a Christian to see that this is so, for it happens even today--at sunrise, when the darkess is banished and we humans get to enjoy the light once more.
And as in Easter, Spring is the time of renewal and resurrection. New life blossoms everywhere, from the greening of the trees to the birth of calves, fawns, and foals--to finding new love!
From out of the most horrid acts of the Bible came the promise of Eternal Life for all believers. In Greek lore, spring came when Pherphoserone, daughter of Demeter, was freed from Hades to live on Olympus--leaving Hades (the God of the Underworld) until after the havest season, when she returned to him as per the agreement between Demeter and Hades
How it started: Hades dragged Demeter's daughter off to his world to be his bride, and Demeter caused the Earth to go barren and cold in retaliation. An agreement was reached where Demeter's daughter could live on Olympus for six months, but had to retrurn to Hades after those six months. That, according to the Greeks, was how the seasons came to be.
Spring is the time for renewal...even after the most horrid of days, the renewal cannot be held back, for without it, Life Itself would no longer exist. Today was only a "Good Friday" in name--but Easter Sunday promises to be much better.
As long as my apartment doesn't get "egged," it will, indeed, be a great day!
More like this:
- The Easter - Good Friday - Passover Connection — April 6, 2012
- Prepping For Easter Sunday... — April 3, 2010
- The Fields Church of Carlsbad — April 15, 2009
- East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church — Jan. 25, 2007
- Annual Good Friday Stations of the Cross/Walk with the Suffering — April 27, 2006