Everyone always seems to want to ask, "What's so good about Good Friday?" (what with the crucifixion on the cross).
Today, when I thought of "the lynching tree" as many call it, immediately "The Hanging Tree" popped into my mind - yes, the song from The Hunger Games:
Are you, are you, coming to the tree
(1) They strung up a man they say who murdered three
(2) Where dead man called out for his love to flee
(3) Where I told you to run so we'd both be free
(4) Wear a necklace of rope/hope side-by-side with me
Strange things did happen there, no stranger would it be
If we met at midnight in the hanging tree
The song is many things: it's about freedom through death, it's about escaping a living reality that's worse than dying, it's an anthem against oppression, it's a call join the resistance no matter the cost, it's a signifier of the hope of a new day after a proverbial midnight death.
Our reality is that we are both victims and perpetrators of original sin. Surely to live under the oppression of sin, and to be complicit in sin against others, is a living fate worse than dying.
But God so loved the world that God sent Jesus into the world, to live among us, to live as we do, to embody Love, to be the physical manifestation of The Word of God, to die, and to be exalted to Eternal Life.
That's not to say that there was an actual blood pact and God or someone ranked higher than God (??) demanded a sacrifice "or else." That doesn't sound very loving on God's part, and to imply that there were forces beyond God's control would mean that God isn't so God-like after all.
So why the need for Jesus' death? Jesus told us himself: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Consider, perhaps the universe did not require Jesus' death, God did not require Jesus' death, Jesus did not require his death; we did. It was our own societal thirst to continue sin and oppression, to place blame on the innocent for trumped up charges, and to call for blood that led to the calls to "crucify Him, crucify Him!" It was our own human existence, so ingrained in a dire system of inequality, corruption, oppression, and misconstrued laws that prevented us from truly understanding the power of radical love, which does no wrong and is the proper fulfilling of the law.
And how could we even comprehend the depths of God's love for us? It's something that's still hard to fully understand today. It's not so tangible. But Love Incarnate submitted himself to our own calls for his death in one of the most gruesome ways. Whereas we thought/think that God would reconcile our personal sins by condemning us for eternity, Jesus reconciled our sinful nature through love. He flipped the tables, as it were, on our own limited understanding and showed us that love is real, love is here, and love is for absolutely everyone.
A strange thing, what happened there. Through Jesus' death, we can understand the unlimited power of love. We can be free, we can fight against corruption and oppression, we can speak truth to power, we can bring hope to our neighbor by accompanying and advocating for them, we can spend our lives acting in love.
If we come to the cross, to the lynching tree, if we commemorate and acknowledge Jesus' greatest act of love, we can truly understand the depths of hope that comes from Jesus' still-loving death.
Good Friday indeed!
Here is it, y'all: love changes things 8/7/20
Good Friday in the Midst of a Pandemic 4/10/20
Wrestling with Faithfulness and Transformation (a sermon) 10/21/19
Healing of the Outcasts (a sermon) 10/18/19
Reckon-ciliation (a poem) 7/19/19
The Road to Recovery 6/26/19
Perpetuating Sins of the Church 8/16/18
It's Tuesday and I'm Overwhelmed 5/8/18
Music is a Language 5/3/18
Skipping a Meeting 4/10/18
Spark (a poem) 4/5/18
A New Old Song for Holy Saturday 3/31/18
Good Friday? 3/30/18
Who are the Leaders in Your Church? 1/2/18