Friday, Good.

For the last forty days or so I have been thinking about this post. Since I wrote about what to give up for Lent, a post that got a lot of traffic, I have been thinking about a Good Friday post that would do the same. Something like, “Why is Good Friday Good?”  Or, “How can a brutal murder be described as good?”  Or something like that. Something to get search traffic. Something that would be seasonal.

But I haven’t been able to get that post written and now it’s after midnight on Good Friday morning and I have to get this post written. In the middle of the night. After an exhausting week in many ways. Ending with five hours on the road.

There is a luxury in historical hindsight, an ability to see the lessons without going through the event. And it is that hindsight that named this morning Good. In real time, on the ground in Jerusalem, there was nothing good about spittle mixed with blood. There was nothing good about a suicidal man, remorse-ridden. There was nothing good about a group of people accepting guilt–and that momentary statement being used as the justification for generations of atrocities.

In the moment, the pain was excruciating. Had to be. Abandonment. Rejection. Nails. In the moment, there was little energy for discerning the lessons. Jesus was not working on a three point sermon, 10 lessons for a happy Good Friday,  quick fashion lessons from the suffering savior (“a seamless tunic should be in everyone’s closet.”) No trite summaries. No cute sayings for surviving in the middle of trials (“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”) Not even a neatly tied up blog post with some nice moral.

Just raw pain. And in the middle of it, forgiveness.

“God. How awful.”


13 thoughts on “Friday, Good.

  1. Mimi Meredith

    It’s still Maundy Thursday in my time zone. I can’t tell you how much I needed these words. As the last note from the oboe playing Were You There hung in the air tonight, and my dear, but oft too eager minister wanted to reassure us, It’s Okay! Easter’s Coming, all I wanted to do was linger in the awful. I need to just stay here a bit.

    Thanks for coming along beside me.



    1. Jon Swanson

      When you describe that scene, Mimi, I’ve been there. It’s the “Candlelight Christmas eve blow out the candles right away.” It’s the “don’t leave a moment of silence.” And I’ve been guilty myself. But the oboe was made to be listened to and remembered. As, of course, is the crucifixion on the way to the resurrection.

      Thanks for the reminder that we need time to listen at our own speed.


  2. Larissa

    “Just raw pain. And in the middle of it, forgiveness.”

    This is so much more encouraging to me than any nice three-point sermon, any amount of energy for figuring out all the lessons. This sounds like my life and that of others I know, something that can only be figured out in hindsight, not while I’m in the middle of it. It’s nice to know Jesus went through the very same thing.

    I tend to want my Christianity to be something that will take me out of the realm of the ordinary, something that eliminates the pain, something that will turn my life into a wonderful series of miracles. But over the last couple of years I have been learning that Christianity takes place in the ordinary, God is still there in the midst of pain (even when I can’t necessarily see Him), and miracles are often overlooked until I look back and see them.

    Thank you for the reminder.


  3. Rich Dixon

    Raw physical pain, for sure. But I Ithink of the spiritual pain of seperation from God, which I imagine to be much more horrific for Him.

    From THE APOSTLES CREED: He descended into hell.

    Theologically unclear, I know, but SOMETHING happened in the spiritual realm that was beyond what we could see physically.


    1. Jon Swanson

      On one hand, Rich, you are right about the line from the creed. The history of that line in the text is tenuous. However, you are also right about that sense of separation, of abandonment. I gotta write about that sometime soon. I taught about it last summer and it changed me.


  4. Bill Hanifin

    For those who struggle to embrace God and to understand what it means in John 1:14 “the Word became flesh” , your post today is awesome. For believers it is a vivid reminder that God is with us every day, in our flesh and in our struggles.



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