“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, while the sun’s light failed, and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last. When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, ‘Certainly this man was innocent.’ And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts.” Luke 23:44-48
Good Friday is a stark reminder of how easily evil can creep into the human heart. Jesus, God’s promised messiah, is crucified. Crucified, instead of being honored and revered. In his gospel, Luke records the moment when recognition hit onlookers at the crucifixion. Luke tells us that after Jesus died on the cross, a Roman soldier, who had witnessed everything . . . The way Jesus died . . . An eerie feeling in the air . . . Oppressive darkness of the afternoon . . . could only say, “This man was innocent.” Then Luke adds, “And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts.” Luke 23:48
Spectators had a sudden realization, what they had witnessed, was not entertainment, but the death of an innocent and righteous man. Through their jeering, mockery and shouts of “crucify him,” they condemned themselves. At his death, spectators recognized evil for what it was. In ways they may not fully have realized, they shared responsibility for his death on the cross.
Knowing a moment of contrition would come, Jesus had already prayed, “Father, Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 22:34
I’m grateful for Jesus’ prayer of restoration. I need Jesus to pray that prayer for me. The backwards look in life reveals more than enough moments and times, when thinking I was wise, I’ve done injury . . . thinking I had understood, missed the point entirely. Not only missing the point, but then put an impediment in another’s way. Jesus’ words of forgiveness are healing balm to our wounded hearts, as we both recognize and acknowledge harm we have done to God’s children.
At the cross, those who jeered, mocked and wanted to see a spectacle, instead came face to face with their own complicity in evil. Returning home, beating their breasts, they were left to wonder, how they could have so misjudged Jesus? How could they have missed, the savior they were praying for?
Good Friday is “Good” because God transformed the cross into a place of grace. Facing our own sins, we discover a savior, who loved us so much, he was willing to give his life for us.
Other Resources for Lent through Easter can be found at this link.