The seeming media blackout of Good Friday
April 19, 2019
It’s a funny thing– (not ha ha funny, but strange funny) –I have reminded my congregation for years that Good Friday is, for sinners saved by God’s grace through the cross of Christ, the holiest day of the year. On this day, we commemorate the fact that our sins, our death, our wrath rightly deserved, our sinfulness; all of this was paid for through the suffering and death of Jesus. Christmas and Easter are not insignificant, but Good Friday is (and should be) a really big deal to us.
It also seems deeply wrong to rejoice and celebrate Jesus’ resurrection (or birth, for that matter) if we do not have much interest in sitting up and remembering those hours He suffered for our sake.
Realizing this, I find it interesting that there seems to be very little media attention paid to the fact that today is Good Friday. I may have seen a couple of articles talking about Filipino Catholics reenacting the crucifixion, but even these are scarcely in prominent locations. The newsmedia rolls on, more or less ignoring the day. About 1/3 of the world’s population self-identifies as Christian, and yet the significance of today is entirely overlooked. In our present day of easy anger and outrage, you might think from this that I would be decrying the media, or hollering about a possible war on Christianity.
Far from it: I am not surprised by this, and I think that I am for the most part happy and relieved.
I am not surprised by this, because ‘friendship with the world is enmity with God’ –so Jesus’ half brother tells us. This world and God’s agenda are naturally inclined to be headed in opposite directions. I think the fact that popular culture in previous decades made a nod to Good Friday probably should have been more of a surprise than the fact that today’s popular culture does not.
I am relieved by this, because nothing can be quite so tacky as the media deciding that it wants to recognize an emotionally significant moment. Too often, cameras are leveled at people and callous voices ask ‘so how are you feeling,’ when people are trying to simply process emotions that are too full, too deep, possibly too painful or at least meaningful, for words. I am also relieved by this, because I shudder what media marketers might otherwise try to do with Good Friday imagery, in order to sell air time, or, worse still, to sell products. (I don’t trust Google to make a suitably reverent image of Jesus on the cross for one of its commemorative images, and somehow, the thought of them trying seems to overly commercialize a deeply personal moment. I shudder at the thought of Good Friday sales flyers coming out, of the sort that come out around Christmas or other holidays that popular culture has taken note of. Keep ignoring it, culture, please. It’s better this way by far.)
This day is between the faithful and their Savior. It is a private, family affair. Visitors are welcome, but they are best invited personally, and encouraged to remember the deep reverence of the day.
At its core, what it means that Jesus died for me and for you is something that we best can explain, and we best should explain. A simple slice of that meaning was handed to me recently by a good friend, who had been through a very difficult time emotionally and spiritually over the past several months. He had been wronged, and had stewed over it. He had lived angry, as he felt he had the right to do– but weeks of stewing simply left him exhausted and miserable. It was only as he had repented of that outlook– turned from it, and turned towards Jesus– that he began to find some peace. It was also as he found himself being turned towards Jesus (credit: Spirit of God) that he realized that he hadn’t just been unhappy, but hadn’t particularly liked himself during that time.
Sin has its own consequences and its own agenda. It leaves destruction in its wake, and it breaks us, and turns us around on ourselves. We end up ingrown, like a toenail, and about as pleasant to be around. The life of faith that we live is one of continual repentance, continually turning back to Jesus, continually needing His lovingkindness, continually receiving what He has done for us through the cross, continually being made clean– living ‘washed,’ as the people He has washed and purified by what He did for us on the cross.
We never get particularly far away from the cross, in this life of faith. When we do, we are called back to it. Whatever else we might do by faith as Christians, it is only because of what He has done for us, making our life possible.
Go to church tonight. Pray, sing, and hear the scriptures read. Rejoice that He rose from the dead, sure, but thankfully think on what He has done for you, and the great love behind this; the love that brought Him to willingly endure the cross.