Today, Good Friday is the day Christians recall the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. For me this represents God’s ultimate sacrifice through his Son for all humankind. There is absolutely nothing more anyone can do than to give their life for another. As a sign of his unconditional love this solitary act indicates the extent to which God desires to reveal his love for all. This act has absolute nothing to do with a God demanding the death of his Son to pay for the sins of humankind. To think in these terms suggests that God is a vengeful deity. Furthermore, to link this event as being foretold through the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac is wrong and even sacrilegious. It is sacrilegious because it supports the concept that God requires appeasement through sacrifice. Nothing could be further from the truth. The story of Abraham merely reminded people of his time that this God does not require the customary pagan sacrifice of their first born. God’s unconditional love does not make demands in any form or kind.
The sign of the cross is first and foremost a sign of Love. It is actually something to be celebrated not mourned. Did Jesus then not suffer on the cross? Of course he did - agonizingly painfully so! But does this story not teach us that to love someone unconditionally can be very painful and require great sacrifice? Instead of demanding revenge the cross reminds us to sacrifice our false self or ego with the greater act of love. Instead of labeling or judging people the cross reminds us to sacrifice our false self or ego and replace it with acceptance and respect and so on. You get the picture?
Whenever I read the Passion story I get particularly disturbed with the taunting of Jesus by the Roman guards who blindfolded him and then asked him, “Who hit you? Guess!” This is part of several instances where Jesus is pestered and insulted, hit on the head with a stick, or slapped, etc., this type of psychological ridiculing of a defenseless individual is particularly disturbing. We know it is often employed by cowards and sadist but what is the purpose behind it when the person is already condemned? What does it say about the coward and how should we respond? Jesus appears to remain calm to these cruel attempts and does not respond to them, instead we can already hear him say "Forgive them Father for they do not know . . . ." I think of the number of times I have been held to ridicule and am tempted to act with revenge. Perhaps Jesus wants us to learn that it is only our ego that responds to negative accusations and that it is actually possible to sacrifice that part of us on his cross. To do so would be a great message to take away on Good Friday.