Today we have entered what is regarded as the Easter Week with the coming Friday known throughout Christendom as Good Friday; it is the Friday before Easter. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are regarded as the most important days of Christendom, by virtue of the events that mark the days, i. e. the crucifixion and death on the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ On Good Friday and His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The understanding and the meaning given to the two events form the kernel of the Christian gospel. And there is no doubt that they were momentous events which the whole of humanity should never forget. In commemorating Good Friday Christians may go into fasting, meditation, praying, or processions in which the journey of Christ , bearing His cross, to Calvary, is re-enacted, amongst many other activities.
As a little boy in the church in those days perhaps what made the most impressions on me about Good Friday celebration or commemoration were firstly, the processions on the streets, and, secondly, the injunction that nobody should eat any flesh of an animal with blood on that day. The processions kept me wondering how a day, in which the one we called our Saviour, Jesus Christ, underwent such torture, suffering and eventual death could be designated a good day. As for the injunction not to eat meat, I was always at odds reconciling how the eating of meat could tantamount to the eating of the flesh of Jesus Christ. I was just being deprived of tasty meat for nothing, so was my reasoning then. Those two impressions were deeply engraved in my memory or psyche and they contributed to the cumulative of unanswered questions that drove me on in search of answers deep into my adult life, until I came in contact with the Grail Message, thanks to the Almighty.
There is no gainsaying that every human being, who is spiritually alive, must consciously commemorate the momentous events of the crucifixion of the Saviour and His resurrection. However when we commemorate Good Friday what is our underlying understanding of the event that mark that day?
3. What Is The Christian Understanding Of Good Friday?
At all times, for the human being who is spiritually awake, a designation should convey a picture to the spirit which in turn gives the concept. Therefore the designation Good Friday should convey a picture and a conceptualisation to everyone who claims to commemorate that day, unless it is a mere intellectual exercise. So, for Christians who commemorate Good Friday, what is their conceptualisation of the day? What picture is conjured before their spirits?
In my readings to try to understand how Christians conceptualise Good Friday my first discovery was that I am not alone in worrying about where the goodness is in Good Friday. I also came across a write-up entitled: “What’s so good about Good Friday?” by one Justin Holcomb, who is said to be an Episcopal Priest and teacher of Theology. Excerpts from his write-up will give an insight into the general Christian conceptualisation of Good Friday and the events marking it. He asked: “Why do we call Good Friday ‘good’, when it is such a dark and bleak event commemorating a day of suffering and death for Jesus?” The same question I asked even as a simple boy many years ago. Rev Holcomb proceeded to proffer answers as follows:
(i) “Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be ‘of first importance’ that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the scriptures”.
(ii) “On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins”.
(iii) “The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to nations”.
(iv) “We receive divine Forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin.”
(v) “Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and so good.”
These statements about capture the views of the generality of Christians about Good Friday. However for the simple mind, which I think I was at age 12, the statements would always elicit certain questions, for example:
· Did God really promise that His son would die for our sins?
· Did Jesus Christ willingly take on the suffering and eventual death?
· Was Jesus Christ really a sacrificial substitute on whom God’s wrath against sin was poured?
· Did man really receive divine forgiveness, mercy and peace because of Christ’s death?
· Can a day be really so dark and yet so good?
4. Some Scriptural Accounts:
Let us try to reflect on these questions, both from scriptural accounts and simple logical reasoning, to form the fulcrum of the discussion of our subject.
(i) Did The Almighty Actually Promise That His Son Would Come And Die For Us?
There are many prophecies in the scriptures that foretold the birth of the Messiah Jesus Christ and the fact of His crucifixion and death on the cross. However, does foretelling amount to endorsement? Let me aver here that not all prophecies are given for fulfilment. Prophecies are however always to help man, either to prepare man for an impending happening or to warn man against the high probability of the happening and its consequences, so as to avoid it. For example, a seer who sees a motor accident ahead of a man with a habit of reckless driving does not say the accident must or will definitely happen but has simply helped him to change his way of driving and avoid the high possibility of the happening. However, if after the foretelling the man persists on his recklessness, as men are wont to do, always looking for blame somewhere else but themselves, then the accident will surely occur.
Standing far above and outside of His Creation, the Almighty always has a complete survey of His Creation and His Creatures. Thus it is that He can see the direction in which the creatures(either as individuals or as groups) move or travel, where they will stop next and where they are likely to end, in accordance with His Will manifesting terrestrially as the Laws of Nature. It is on the basis of this omniscience that He sends help at the right time, such as the emergency redemptive help in the form of the incarnation in flesh of His Son Jesus Christ. So it was also that all what man could do to Jesus were foreseen even before He incarnated, and man was warned against it in the prophecies. Even Jesus Christ Himself warned man against His murder in the parable of the owner of the vineyard or the husbandmen.
Jesus Christ, through the parable, indirectly talked of Himself and even allowed His disciples to give the verdict of what will happen to the husbandmen for killing the son of the owner of the vineyard- “He(the owner of the vineyard, the Almighty) will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out His vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons”-Matthew 21:41. And this same verdict Jesus Christ later confirmed on His way to Calvary when He said to the wailing women: “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children”-Luke 23:28.
How do we reconcile these statements of Christ with the so-called promise of His coming to die?
(ii) Did Jesus Christ Willingly Take On The Suffering And Eventual Death?
Yes, the Saviour was aware of what awaited Him in the hands of men before embarking on His salvage mission. The prophecies attest to this fact and even He severally alluded to that during His mission, such as the parable of the husbandmen mentioned earlier. However willingly undertaking a dangerous mission does not mean a desire to suffer and die. For example, a man who sees a house on fire with a child trapped inside and decides to go in to save the child, in spite of the glaring risks of getting burnt or dying, does not necessarily want to get burnt or die. It is love that will push such a man. And he will go in hoping that he may neither get burnt nor die. It was love that pushed the Lord Jesus Christ to undertake the salvage mission for those human beings who could still be saved and by doing so took on a mission karma of suffering ,crucifixion and death. Jesus Christ prayed to His Father to see if the suffering and death could be avoided:“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my Will, but thine, be done”- Luke 22:42
Does this prayer depict someone willing to suffer and die?
It is the will of the Almighty Creator that the human spirit shall be free at all times to exercise his free will. It is also the Will of the Almighty that once His son has descended to gross material earth He shall be subject to the Laws as they apply here.
(iii) Was Jesus Christ Really A Sacrificial Substitute On Whom God’s Wrath Against Sin Was Poured?
The writings of the scriptures relating to the experiences of the Jews and their journey in spiritual maturing were all to culminate in the arrival of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Word incarnate. He was to be the new. However when the Messiah came, the majority of the Jews, the then chosen ones, did not recognise Him. In fact, as you may be aware, the Jews are still awaiting the Messiah till this day. Nothing better red-flags the level of misunderstanding, misinterpretation and distortion of the messages given to man from the Almighty than how the very chosen ones remain today waiting for their promised Messiah. These misunderstandings and distortions continue to this day even among the supposed believers, as many Christians continue to portray themselves in rather ambiguous manners, oscillating between Christianity and Judaism, as it were. Christ came with the new; as the Word incarnate. He gave clarity to all that existed before Him and hinted on what was to come after Him. Yet men continue to insist on old interpretations and opinions. Isn’t it enervating and time wasting for men to continue to dig into the old to seek for explanations for their illogical opinions on matters that have been so clearly illuminated by the Word Incarnate? Are the majority of the so-called followers of Christ not living in the past and dreaming of a future full of errors, while the present is unfolding before them every minute without them knowing? While they daily dig into the story of the Jews what history are they making for themselves, what will be their own story? Mind you nothing goes unrecorded in creation.
Didn’t the Lord Jesus Christ tell us that a man shall reap what he sows. How is it then that the Son of the Almighty, who is spotless, is supposed to have received His Father’s wrath for the sins of insignificant earthman. Or, as put by the bringer of the Grail Message: “What is man that he has the effrontery to expect God to send His Inborn Son, a part of His Unsubstantiate Essence, so that men can cast their load of sin upon Him, only in order to avoid the trouble of washing their own dirty linen and clearing away the dark burden they had heaped upon themselves.”- Composite volume pg 332. Is it not clearly stated also in the Ten Commandments that: “Thou shall not kill”. Moreover if Christ was really a sacrifice how come He cursed the one, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him to bring to fruition the so-called ‘noble act’ when He said:” And truly the son of man goeth, as it was determined; but woe unto that man by whom He is betrayed”- Luke 22:22. Shouldn’t Judas be seen as a hero for the part he played in bringing about a fulfilment that has been prophesied and is supposed to be to the benefit of man? Then why did Christ utter that greatest ever prayer of intercession on the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do”- Luke 23:34.
(iv). Did Man Receive Forgiveness, Mercy And Peace Because Of Christ’s Death?
Do we need to go far to answer this question? Just open your eyes a little bit more and look around you, pay some more attention to what you see and what you hear. Then withdraw a bit and look/listen to yourself; what do you see, what do you hear? Do you see peace or do you hear the sound of peace? Does the world look like a place where the inhabitants received forgiveness more than two thousand years ago? Or does it look like the sins were all carried away at that same time? Or do the people look like people who received mercy? Perhaps we should put things in proper picture drawing from the scriptures; how was it on earth when Christ was born and how was it when he was murdered?
· The Birth Of Jesus Christ:
Luke 1:8-20- “And there were in the country shepherds abiding in the field………And ,lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them and the glory of the Lord shown upon them…… For unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour which is Christ the Lord……….And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill towards man………And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they heard and seen as it was told unto them.”
· The Death Of Jesus Christ:
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli Lama Sabachthani? That is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?…….. And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom, and the earth quake, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose…”
Now, does anyone need to explain the two pictures painted in the scriptures for any man to understand?
It is true that there was forgiveness by the Almighty on the death of Jesus in that the earth and man were not destroyed on account of the dastardly act, following the intercession by Jesus Christ: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”. However it is the gravest of errors for man to take that last minute saving grace from the Almighty to include the carrying away of their sins, the institution of peace on earth and the bestowing of mercy on them. The only mercy man would receive he received from the Almighty, following Jesus’ intercession, he was not completely annihilated as was supposed to be his due for daring to lay hands on the Son of the Almighty. As for the forgiveness of his sins this shall be only within the workings of the Will of the Almighty, manifesting in the Laws of Creation. And Finally, it is only after man has recognised the Will of the Almighty , live consciously according to them that he can know peace. By then he will not fall prey to the spiritual indolence that causes the majority of mankind to expect the arbitrary forgiveness and carrying away of their sins by another.
Suffice to inform you that, contrary to the erroneous belief held by Christians, the renting of the veil in the temple in twain, following the murder of Christ did not reconcile man with God. Rather it was an act carried out by the beings signifying the anger of the Almighty and the complete separation between man and his Creator.
(v). CAN A Day Be Really So Dark And Yet So Good?
Holcomb, as earlier quoted referred to Good Friday as the day when wrath and mercy met on the cross. He also recognised the day as a very dark day. I have reproduced the picture of the wrath that was to befall man and the inconceivable mercy that was shown man following the intercession of Christ, as reported in the scriptures. But if man continues, through intellectual subterfuges, to try to give other interpretations to the events of Good Friday, just in order to retain the designation Good Friday, then he only heaps more burden on himself. The goodness in the day could be seen from some other perspectives, if only men could become simple enough to look from those angles, rather than insist on the path of illogicality and blind faith.
5. So How Is Good Friday To Be Seen?
Very true, Good Friday and Easter mark very momentous events in creation. In the words of the bringer of the Grail Message, on pg 556 of the composite volume: “The birth of Jesus Christ was a Divine Act of Love for the entire Creation, which was in danger of being undermined by the erring human spirit”. And on pg 560 He further states thus: “The structure men so laboriously erected with the fundamentally false idea of a necessary vicarious sacrifice in the death on the cross is already destroyed by the words of the Saviour Himself at the time He was nailed on the cross- Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”.
Christians outwardly act out Good Friday as a dark day. On such commemorative days, as earlier stated, they wear dark attires, they fast, they embark on sorrowful processions, refrain from eating meat and some even engage in self mutilations and torture. All these actions remain in the realm of superficiality, hypocrisy and contradiction as long as inwardly they picture Jesus bleeding on the cross washing away their sins. This way they are guilty of the continuous murder of Jesus Christ. Jesus died because of the sins of men and not for the sins of men. Jesus confronted suffering and death to put a seal to the Word of Truth He brought. He shed His Blood for the few and not for all. It is those who wash their garments clean in the blood of the lamb that shall be saved and not those who think the shed blood has already washed them clean of sin, as clearly stated in The Revelation of John, 7:14: “..These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the lamb”. The latter group shall perish in their self delusion.
Good Friday should remind us of the day of Judgement ( the great tribulation John talked of) because by the act of laying hands on the Son of the Creator man passed judgement on himself. He should use the commemorative day to reflect on what awaits him and how he can save himself. He should use the opportunity to commit to living in the Will of the Almighty and grasp the lifebelt that has been thrown to him this time through the inconceivable grace and forbearance of the Almighty. It is when he does so that he can then look forward to Easter, which should be resurrection morn for those human spirit that pass in the final Judgement. As it is only those human beings who survive the on-going final judgement that shall truly enjoy Easter.
6. So Where Is The Goodness In Good Friday?
It is said that in every dark cloud there is a silver lining, but only so for those who can see it.
· Doesn’t having a special day to reflect on your life and your past mistakes make that day good?
· Doesn’t having the opportunity of a special day to envision a future of peace, joy and bliss and recommit to strive for these make that day good?
· Doesn’t having a special day to reflect on and appreciate the inconceivable grace and love of the Almighty that allowed His son to undertake a dangerous mission just to salvage you from an imminent wreckage make the day a good day?
· And in spite of everything wasn’t it Good Friday for that thief on the cross who repented and got salvation that day? And can’t it be same for you?
· Was it not Good Friday for the Centurion and those with him whose eyes opened, and said before Christ’s body on the cross:” Truly this is the Son of God”.
Ladies and gentlemen, in conclusion, Good Friday can only be good if on that day of commemoration you are well reminded of the sacrifice made for you by the Messiah, Jesus Christ, by confronting suffering and death in your hands just to put a seal to the Word of Truth He brought to lead you out of the darkness you have immersed yourself in. And if you are reminded of the on-going final Judgement and how you can save yourself through the Word then you will find goodness in the day. Commemorations in any other sense are in grave error.