Celebrating Good Friday
Eric Alexander of Progressing Spirit argues that Good Friday can be recognised as 'good' by all Christians, from the most progressive to the most traditional.
Easter week can elicit many questions. Did Jesus physically rise in a miraculous resuscitation on the third day after his death? Was the holy temple curtain torn in two from top to bottom at the moment of his death? (Mt 27:51)
After his death, did the bodies of many dead saints rise up from their tombs and flood Jerusalem appearing to many? (Mt 27:52) Let’s face it, progressives often come to very different conclusions on these topics than most conservative evangelical pastors do. But one thing that most tend to agree on is that Jesus was executed on a day that we recognize today as Good Friday.
Jesus (then known as Yeshua of Nazareth) seems to have been a man of great compassion and conscience. He hated to see the religious institution hijacked by legalistic Pharisees, and he loathed the idea that the poor and sick went untended by both the state and church. He thought of himself as one with God, and he believed that he / we could harness eternal Spirit for the transformation of ourselves and the world.
Because he was so bold to believe in his prophetic vision, and even more courageous to profess it publicly, he was put to a gruesome and unfathomable death by the state. The religious institutions saw him as a threat to their power for daring to think for himself, and the government viewed him as a threat for giving the people something bigger to hope for.
As his followers ascribed increasing importance to his ministry, his opponents realized that he had the influence to start a grass roots movement of the people. As it turned out, that heartful free thinker we call Jesus became a serious threat to the order of things for daring to share a greater vision.
But then again, is it much different today? Sure, most countries don’t practice barbaric executions these days for the exercising of free thought. But certainly social executions still happen every day. Daring to suggest that the physical resurrection was not a literal event is even a shunable offense from most churches and good Christian social circles. It is my guess that if you are reading this you know exactly what I’m talking about.
That is why I reach out to you today in solidarity. On this day, Good Friday, we can remember a resolute teacher called Jesus, whose life was squashed for daring to express a bigger vision. His bravery, inspiration, and conviction during his life is worthy of exaltation.
Today is a day we can very intentionally remember what Jesus was truly about. No matter how we choose to interpret the meaning of Sunday, we still have the unity of Friday. A day when Jesus willingly paid the ultimate price for daring to transcend the principalities of his day for the greater good. Risking his comfort and security to speak progress in a society that was gripping for its life to the sinking sands of creedal security, tribal allegiance, and veneered sanctity.
Therefore, I bid you a sacred Friday today. A day where we can be encouraged to stand up for what’s right, come what may. And on Sunday perhaps we can reflect on that moment when a person dares to elevate their mind, heart, and spirit beyond the tribe and become the change they want to see in the world. That is what rising can mean. Rising above the confederation who seek to squelch an awakening for their own comfort or gain. That is what Jesus did. And that is what we all can do.
Eric Alexander is editor in chief of Progressing Spirit. This is the movement initiated by friends of Bishop Jack Spong. They publish weekly essays and Q&As. Readers of this website can subscribe for half price. Simply visit their website and enter the code PCN50 in the coupon code slot when you get to the checkout page. You may also wish to ‘like’ the new Progressing Spirit Facebook page for additional commentaries and chances to win free books.
This article was first published by Progressing Spirit Copyright © 2018 ProgressiveChristianity.org, All rights reserved.
Image by Tetraktys (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons