To many Jews during the time of Jesus, his death on the cross was the awful ending to an adventure gone terribly wrong. Here was an itinerant preacher who simply burst upon the scene, preaching repentance and the coming of the Kingdom of God. Very soon, he had thousands following him, wanting to witness the miracles that he performed and to hear the inspiring words that he spoke. But this did not sit well with the authorities, both political and religious. He was a blasphemer and a rabble-rousing rebel. For the sake of the nation, this Jesus must die the most ignominious death to teach would-be messiahs a lesson.
To his disciples, it was indeed a shameful ending to their misadventure with this man they called the Christ. Most of them, went scurrying off in fear and dejection. How could all the good that they have seen this man say and do come to such a terrible ending? But those who stayed with him soon realized this was the awesome beginning of a glorious finale like they have never seen.
Good Friday is about sin and the sinfulness of man, It is about our need for forgiveness for our failings, shortcomings, imperfections, weaknesses, We are all sinner in need of forgiveness. Even as he hung on the cross, he was still speaking of forgiveness. Even as he was gasping for breath with great difficulty, each breath was a sigh full of love and compassion – for others.
When one is nailed unjustly on the cross, the last thing on one’s mind is forgiveness, More like a cry for vengeance or justice. Indeed, many of us would do everything to avoid the cross. And we find it even harder to forgive.
Men today are not wont to forgive. Today, men have found a way to justify anything and everything they have done – right or wrong. The sense of sin and morality is all abut dead, If people can make it sound all right or even rational, or of it feels good; then it must be all right. There is no more sin, no more right or wrong. So who needs to repent and ask for forgiveness? Man in his pride now feels he is above morality and can just make rules as he goes along. There is no more sin.
Or, we would swing to the other extreme. We keep on doing the same sin. What’s the use of repentance if I keep on doing the same thing over and over. Or, sometimes, we feel we are all in the same boat and who are others to judge me? Or who am I to judge them? Since we are all sinners, let’s just call it quits. No harm. No injury. No sin. No need for forgiveness.
This is exactly what Good Friday is reminding me about. I am a sinner in need of repentance and forgiveness. And the Good News is – that man on the cross, he says we can have a second chance, and a third, and a fourth. In fact, seventy times seven times. And the story does not end on the cross. It finds it glorious fulfillment in the empty tomb. And believers know what that means. Don’t we?