Let every man and woman count himself immortal. Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection. Let him say not merely, ‘Christ is risen,’ but ‘I shall rise.’
~ Phillips Brooks
Jesus has beaten death with his hands pinned to a cross. This is no arm wrestle. His victory gives new meaning to the expression, “He won hands down.” But, it is not just his hands but his feet that were held down– not with hands but nails. And he did it without the assistance and intervention of God, forsaken (Matthew 27.46). He is the undefeated even when his divinity is held back. This is the power of God!
He is fixed to the cross, secured to suffer. There is no wiggle room as his movements will only cause pain. The Christ is captured; the omnipresent God is held in place and made a spectacle by creation. They have nailed the Hands that feed them.
Afterwards, his body is taken down, placed in a tomb and they roll a stone over the One who can make rocks cry out. The juxtaposition is almost unbelievable. It is only possible because God allows it. The story does not fall apart because God is holding it together.
And this is not the end of it. Wait! There’s more.
Jesus gets up. Jesus has been raised from the dead and though not screaming fans, this performance causes the guards to faint (Matthew 28.4). He is the undefeated God.
He is finished with the cross and the tomb. But, he is not finished with his disciples. He is not finished with us. There is life and purpose after the resurrection because Jesus must now teach us how to rise.
The dripping blood our only drink,
The bloody flesh our only food:
In spite of which we like to think
That we are sound, substantial flesh and blood–
Again, in spite of that, we call this Friday good.
~ T.S. Eliot, From “Easter Coker,” 1943
It is both strange and mysterious that we call this day of remembrance good. Jesus has been betrayed, abandoned by his disciples, mocked and beaten. He has suffered a very public humiliation.
More than a hashtag or a trending topic on social media, we have been reading and hearing and telling his story for thousands of years. “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” We have repeated the intimate details and private moments that led to his death because it bears repeating.
We are certain that this is love. In all ways, it is public and for the record. Explicitly stated, there is no way that Jesus is going to take this back.
After all that he has endured, he is then forsaken by God and publicly executed (Matthew 27.46). It is the story of Job compounded. If he had not died from heartbreak or humiliation, the nails seal the tomb.
Still, he died a good death not because of the way that he died but for whom he died. His death saved our spiritual lives. One Friday changed eternity. That’s a good day’s work and that’s why we call this Friday good.