Call it what you will…
To call the day we remember the death of our Lord Good Friday seems contradictory. What happened on that day was cruel and barbaric. An innocent Man, the only truly innocent Man to ever live was beaten, mocked, ridiculed, and rejected, and we call it Good. An innocent Man was beaten with whips, stripping the skin and flesh from his back, buttocks, and legs – a punishment so severe that our civilized society today would never tolerate – and we call it Good. The hands and feet of an innocent Man were pierced with nails akin to railroad spikes, affixing his body to a cross created out of roughhewn timber – and we call it Good. And there upon that cross, something remarkable happened. The innocent Man stopped being innocent. He did not commit some heinous crime upon the cross. He did not sin against God. Instead, he willingly gave up his innocence in exchange for the sinfulness of humanity. And indeed we do call it Good.
Call it what you will, but it is and always will be Good Friday. It is a day of great agony, as we are reminded about the high cost of our sin. But it is also a day of great rejoicing as we are reminded about the Great Exchange – Christ’s righteousness for our wickedness. It is a Good day.
This week, news broke out of Davenport, Iowa that the city council was considering changing the name of Good Friday to something like, “Spring Celebration Day.” What would possess them to do such a thing? The request of an atheist citizen. It is worth noting that he did not ask them to change the name of the atheist holiday that occurs on April 1, but that’s another story. It wasn’t that someone in the town was forcing him to go to a Good Friday service, or get up early and go to church on Resurrection Day. He was just offended at the existence of a blatantly Christian holy day commemorating the death of the Son of God.
Honestly, it doesn’t matter what you call it, the facts of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are undeniable truths. Those who choose to not believe these truths are resigned to celebrate their own foolishness on April 1. Changing the name does not change the truth.
Every year, this season presents a crisis of faith for those who do not believe. They must choose to either believe or to not. There is no room for fence straddling. Jesus said it succinctly, “You are either for me or against me.” No wonder the atheist wanted the holiday scrapped, he found himself on the wrong side of life’s most critical decision. We’ve managed to hide the meaning of Christmas inside the frenzy of the season, but there’s no hiding the message of Good Friday and Resurrection Day. Call it what you will, but the truth remains the same.
Paul has a word for folks who struggle with this annual crisis of faith. He told the Philippian church in no uncertain terms, “For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Christ the Lord is risen indeed, and indeed he is exalted! What a time to celebrate the most essential truth of history! Will you choose to bow your knees to the Son of God, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord?
Happy Resurrection Day,