Friday, April 6, 2012

When My Addiction and Good Friday Collide

Perhaps it's the whole world that's addicted. Maybe it's just Americans. But I know it's me. I'm addicted to a happy ending. I loath depressing stories. I can't stand movies or plays in which the actors that you've been groomed to care for end up emotionally shattered, thwarted, maimed, or dead. Who wants to waste two to three hours in order to feel depressed at the end?! Not me. I'm a sucker for the happy ending. I love to see heroes defeating the bad guys, the poor guy making it big, and the hapless guy winning the heart of the beautiful girl.

So, when my optimism collides with Good Friday, my mind instantly runs to Sunday. Resurrection! Death is defeated. Satan is on the run. Sin and the curse now have an expiration date. There is grace for this life and hope for the next. PRAISE GOD!

This has changed a little bit for me. No, not my whole personality. I'm still the guy addicted to happy endings. What's changed is my view of Good Friday. A couple of years ago, I watched The Passion on Good Friday. The movie focuses almost exclusively on the horrors of Good Friday, while giving barely a nod to Resurrection Sunday. As the credits started rolling, all those who had watched the movie with me simultaneously started discussing the happy ending. Then, as I sat there, overwhelmed, it struck me. Perhaps my excitement over the resurrection has diminished my appreciation of Good Friday.

Good Friday was good for us, not for Jesus. Jesus started celebrating Passover, a festival reminding Israel of the deliverance and mercy of God, with his disciples and friends. One of them left midway through the feast to betray him for some coin. Jesus acknowledges that the leader of the disciples will betray him before the night ends. They go to the garden and pray. Jesus agonizes over the cross that awaits him, asking the Father if there is another way. There is not. Jesus returns to find his followers overcome with sleep. Temple guards capture him in the night, betrayed by a kiss. Abandoned by his followers. Sham trial. Vicious accusations. Ridicule. Shame. Paraded from one court to another. Deprived of sleep and exhausted, Jesus is sentenced to scouring. Each lash brings indescribable pain, loss of blood, and further weaknessed. Devoid of pity or common sense, the crowd tastes blood and screams for the execution of their King and Savior. Jesus is forced to carry the cross on his lacerated back through the crowded streets teaming with gawking spectators. He is nailed to a cross. Scorned by those that surround him, Jesus asks God to forgive them. Soon after, Jesus takes his last breath. His death is confirmed by the sharp point of a Roman spear.

Two friends beg for the body of Jesus. The disciples are scattered, hiding in fear for their lives. Tears stream down the faces of women as they prepare the spices for his burial. Roman guards seal the tomb. It's the end. When the first Good Friday ended, it was dark. Very dark. Jesus enemies rejoiced for a couple of days while his followers and friends mourned.

It's been healthy for me to appreciate Good Friday a bit more. To slow down and not rush so quickly to the resurrection. To remember the penalty for my sin and rebellion. Contemplating the worst day in human history has fostered in me immense gratitude for the best day in human history, Easter. But here I go again, the hopeless addict of the happy ending.