The Worst Day in the Christian Year?
Read Luke 23:32–34.
Then Jesus said, “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (v. 34)
Though it is called Good Friday, today is, in many ways, the worst day in the Christian year. This is the day we remember everything about Jesus’ awful arrest, torture, crucifixion, and death. Today is the day we remember that he was betrayed by every single one of his closest friends. Today is the day we remember that Jesus was stripped of all of his clothes, mocked, spit upon, made to carry his own cross, and beaten until he could barely walk. We remember today that Jesus was nailed to a cross, that his side was pierced with a spear. We remember that he suffered in great, unimaginable ways. There is nothing good about this day—or is there?
When we read this passage, we cannot avoid noticing the very first thing Jesus says as he embarks upon his terror-filled journey: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (v. 34).
When we read the gruesome and bloody details of what happened on that day, we are struck, time and again, with details of how violent the passage is. We must be very clear about one thing: this story is violent because people are violent. Contrast the actions of the soldiers and the crowd with the words of Jesus, which are words of forgiveness and grace: “They do not know what they are doing.” Truer words were never spoken. The reason today is called Good Friday is that the forgiveness extended to us as human beings, undeserving as we are, is very good news.
God of forgiveness, thank you for the humbling example of grace and mercy that Jesus shows to his worst enemies. Help us to learn to be forgiving as well. Amen.
These Holy Week Posts were published in the Fellowship of Prayer 2015 published annually by Chalice Press. Check out some of Chalice’s recent (and amazing) offerings such as: Sandya Rani Jha’s Pre-Post Racial America,Brian Christopher Coulter’s Be Holy, and Stephen Ingram’s Organic Student Ministry. Of course, my book Seamless Faith: Simple Practices for Daily Family Life is also published by Chalice Press in 2014.