Today is an extremely important day in my faith tradition: Good (or “holy”) Friday.
Frequently, the cruxifixion is viewed through the lens of economics. It goes something like this:
We sinned. A price had to be paid. The price was death. God sent Jesus, his son, to pay the price. Because the price has been paid, we are now forgiven and have full access to the life of God, and ultimately, to eternal life with God.
I don’t know about you (if you think about these kinds of things), but this model has left me with a lot of questions.
If God is God, why can’t He/She simply opt to forgive without insisting on a price? And how does Jesus’ death somehow make up for all the lousy things I do? (the person I disrespected probably still feels the sting, regardless of Jesus’ death).
I am willing to acknowledge that simply because I don’t fully grasp this model does not mean there isn’t Truth in this model.
But there’s another quiet way of understanding the cruxifixion that has coexisted throughout the centuries. It has been espoused by such notables as Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s one I can more fully enter into.
The “Suffering Servant” model goes (very) roughly like this: God loved humans enough to enter into our suffering. He entered life on planet earth and made Himself (not being sexist here – Jesus as far as we know opted for the male gender in this instance) vulnerable to all of its ‘slings and arrows’. He knew what is was to be hungry. He experienced being painfully strapped for cash. He knew the hopelessness of being part of an oppressed people. He knew what is was like to put himself out there and say things he knew were true, and not be taken seriously. until enough people started buying in. then: He knew what happened to people who spoke out against “The System” – but he did it anyways. He experienced the highs of mass approval, only to be dismissed and rejected when he didn’t conform to people’s expectations. He experienced the worst that humans can inflict on one another – raw torture, degradation and ultimately, being nailed hands and feet onto a couple piece of wood – while his mom and best friend watched.
So today, I will observe Good Friday in a way that aligns more with this model. With several other citizens (christians and perhaps others from other faiths) I will be walking the “Stations of the Cross” in a very different way. You can find the details here.
Later, I will be a bit more traditional and spend some quiet time in my own parish church in the dtes of Vancouver. With me will be sex-trade workers, professors, people with mental illness who will disrupt the service, classically trained musicians, my ex, professionals, the priests’ dog, Bear, this money coach, and anyone else who wants to take a moment to acknowledge the mysterious, extraordinary man, Jesus, who lived with us for a while.