Posted by on Mar 29, 2024 in Blog | 0 comments

grayscale photo of crucifix

If you are part of the Christian world, you’ll know that we attach the descriptor “good” to this Friday. “Good Friday.” It would have seemed an impossible stretch if you had been there on the day. If asked to give your own word you might have chosen “tragic”, “awful”, “brutal”, “cruel”, “ruthless”, “barbaric”. If of a more cynical or world weary frame of mind you might have selected “predictable”.

“Predictable Friday.” Why? Because it was. Look at what was happening.

An upstart teacher from a conquered nation had been gathering an increasing number of disciples and proclaiming that he would herald in the Kingdom of God. Really? A rival kingdom to the existing one. Like that was going to go down well. Just a few days before he had arrived in Jerusalem. Despite riding a mere donkey, the crowd had gone wild in their adulation. “Hosanna to the son of David. Blessed is the king of Israel.” And they had waved palm branches and worked themselves up into an ecstasy of expectation. Like that was going to be ok with the authorities.

The final nail in his coffin (make that cross) was when he went to the temple and attacked the money changers. An extraordinary scene it was, and all at the busiest time of the year. Of course it was unacceptable. This madman rushing around the temple with a whip, turning tables over and accusing the legitimate powers of turning God’s house into a den of thieves. As if that was ok. And this at Passover, the time the Jews remembered God’s special mercy and protection for Israel. Who did this upstart think he was to make himself the centre of attention?

No, it was never going to go down well. Crucifixion – predictable, totally predictable. You would stand there at his cross and if for a moment you stopped focusing on the sheer agony of the event you would have bitterly commented to yourself, “Perhaps he deserved better. But why was he so naive? This was so predictable. As if there is place for idealists and dreamers in the real world. So bloody, bloody predictable.”

Predictable in all its dimensions.

The mocking of the bloodthirsty, “He saved others, let him save himself.” Even the little taunt in the sign over his bloodstained head, “The king of the Jews.” Oh, the authorities didn’t like that. It was a little Roman jeer reminding the Jews that any king of theirs would not be tolerated by the actual rulers of the land. They had tried to get Pilate to have it changed to “this man said he was the king of the Jews.” Oh the petty squabbles of the easily offended. And what delusions of grandeur on their part. As if Pilate would really take any request of theirs seriously. Well, any request other than to have someone killed. And he had even pushed back on that.

You probably wouldn’t have lingered long – unless you are one of those people who like this sort of thing. Excruciating suffering – yeah, some people like watching that.

And then you would have noticed the haunting sadness of his friends. There was that small group of women standing near his cross. Their agonised expressions told the story. They wouldn’t disagree with you that this was “predictable Friday”, but if their grief had not stopped them from speaking they would have pushed back just a little, “No, more dreaded Friday. Dreaded, dreaded Friday. We sensed it was coming. It was the chill of fear we felt when waking on each of his final days. We begged him to take another route, but he was not one for turning. We’ve been dreading this – this dreaded, dreaded Friday, now upon us.”

It wasn’t an especially long crucifixion – just 6 hours. Some lasted 3 days. But then they had beaten him a little over zealously beforehand. That crown of thorns an especially ugly touch. Ah, but perhaps it was a mercy. He was barely alive when nailed to those dreaded beams.

If the end had come while you watched you might have been a little perplexed. There he was – that dying man, muttering some closing words. You weren’t sure if you heard correctly, but you thought they were “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That struck you. Pretty remarkable. Forgiving at a time like that. And then the words, “It is finished.” Sure was. He was dead.

Mind you, there were some odd things. Fancy that soldier calling out, “Surely, this man was the Son of God.” Not very professional. Not what you’d expect from a Roman. Still, it was an odd sort of day – so gloomy, with the sun not shining properly and the earth shaking. Odd, really odd.

But as you walked away you’d probably simply say to yourself, “Yes, that was a little odd. But overall, so predictable. So, so predictable…”

As always, nice chatting…

Photo by Alem Sánchez on

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