As we quiet ourselves on Good Friday of Holy Week, pausing to consider that day that seemed anything but “good”, there is much for us to contemplate. We may move to the sacrifice and the horrors of what was being done to Jesus or be directed to reflect on this day by services at our church services. That is good. We need to pause far more often than we do.
This week one question has echoed in my heart and mind – where would you be?
As I reflect on the gospels that record the scene and the unfolding events of that day and reread portions of the Old Testament that spoke to what would occur, it stopped me to consider if I had been there, where would I be?
Could I put myself into the scene? Would I have been with Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas and Mary Magdalene near the horrors unfolding? Would I have been racked with pain as I watched each nail pounded into his hands and feet and almost feel the pain that occurred as the cross was raised up to a vertical position with his body weight suspended there?
Would I have been remembering the words He had spoken about how this would happen and that He would rise again? Would I be focused on my loss or gain, His pain or my own? Or would I be fearfully hiding with the other disciples in anguish, expecting I could be next if the goal was to blot out every evidence of Jesus and all He had done in the three years of his ministry?
Would I have been one of the spectators only? In ancient times, crucifixions and other forms of death routinely happened in the open forum of the time and were nearly a spectator sport for some.
The question of where I would have been is a sobering one that is not easily answered unless I allow Jesus to show me my own heart and consider what I have done with the words and truth He left for me to follow and whether I believe them. Am I believing them amid the cares and trials of this life, in the distractions of this world, or believing more easily as I sit in a service at church or attend a worship service that sets all those aside for a short period?
The question came to my heart with no condemnation but a reminder to consider without judgment those who were there that day. And with that came the reminder of how Jesus responded to those who were there. The thief on the cross who deserved punishment asked Jesus to remember Him and the response from Jesus was that he would be with Him in paradise that very day. He had no time to pursue religious disciplines, be baptized, or do good works and yet he was offered what Jesus gave Him without stipulation.
And that was not all. He looked at the centurion and Roman soldiers inflicting the punishment prescribed and pronounced by Pilate and asked God to forgive them because they did not know what they were doing. That day his witness caused the centurion who observed every one of the 6 hours Jesus hung there and then pronounced:
“When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”Matthew 27:54 (NIV)
The question I have pondered is most important because it causes me to look at the past scene and then consider where I am now and perhaps even more importantly, where do I see myself in what He promised about his return. Am I believing those words He spoke and living my life with intimacy and deep connection with Him or am I allowing the cares of this life to cloud the reality that a believer lives in two worlds – the one with the things I can see and touch like the chair I am sitting on and the keyboard I am typing on as well as the one that is unseen and yet is very real and isn’t limited by the address on my mail or any other thing I see with my natural eyes.
Yes, He is still alive and if I believe, He is alive within me by his Holy Spirit, but on this day we do not celebrate Easter. This day, Good Friday, we remember the cross where He chose to give his life so I could live with Him forever if I would just believe.
Where would you be in the scene we observe on Good Friday?
Where will you be in the scene He has told us to anticipate?