Good Friday and Evil

What has Good Friday to do with evil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine if the Democratic National Committee got together every November and remembered the day when John Kennedy was murdered and called that Good Friday. It wouldn’t make sense to us. One would think most Democrats would see this day as a tragedy. Heck. Many Republicans who would not support Kennedy would still say the president being assassinated as a tragedy.

However, every year Christians get together and think about the day that Jesus was crucified and call that Good Friday. Of course, one could say that Jesus did rise again, yet that is a reason why one would call the day of resurrection good. That makes sense. Why call this day good? Wouldn’t it make more sense to call it Dark Friday or Black Friday or something of that sort?

Many people reject Christianity because of the problem of evil. On an emotional level, one can understand why this is troublesome. Most of us do what we can to avoid suffering. It’s easy in suffering to ask where God is, yet one could ask why do we do that? God never promised us everything would be perfect.

It could be often we have an entitlement idea in our minds. We are owed a good life aren’t we? When I talk about the problem of evil, I do bring up something like this. The first point I want to ask about is “Does God owe use anything?” If anything is owed us, it is justice for what we have done.

It’s not like we gave God any special benefits when we showed up on the scene. One can say the devil was the first sinner and rightfully so, and yes, we listened to the temptation, but we still did the wrong in the end and we bear the responsibility and we have all been suffering the effects of that since then and the creation God made has suffered.

So yeah, we were given a great gift and we committed treason against the giver and decided to take it for ourselves.

Still want to talk about what we deserve?

God could have left us alone in that. He could have abandoned everything and still had immense joy within Himself for all eternity. We don’t better Him. We don’t bring Him more joy.

We were owed nothing, after all. He could have done this. No one could charge Him with doing anything wrong.

This is not what happened. God somehow chose to enter into our suffering. God chose to live a life where He came as a baby who had to pass through the birth canal and came out bloody and needing to be cleaned regularly and would poop his diapers and wet Himself and everything. He would be absolutely helpless and dependent on His parents.

In fantasy, we can easily understand the concept of a deity or deities coming to live in the world. Having them come as a baby is not how we normally picture it. They come in power and glory or if they do come in a weakened state, they’re at least capable of fighting right at the start and build themselves up with acts of glory defeating their villains.

The closest we get to Jesus as a fighter is Him making a whip and even then, He’s not taking on gangs of Pharisees at that point.

Jesus came in a way no one would notice who He was immediately and lived an ordinary life, a life that would still have suffering. Isaiah 53 describes Him as a man of sorrow, familiar with suffering, hardly the way you would want to describe the coming of your deity. This is just the beginning.

Jesus came to die and came to die not just a death, but the worst possible death at the time. It was not just a death, but a shameful and painful and enduring death. It was public and everyone would know about it. It would be unable to be separated from the Christian account, hardly the best motivator to get people to join your movement.

What is amazing about this and evil is that somehow, God entered the suffering we went in. No. I’m not talking about the idea of Patripassianism where somehow, God the Father suffered on the cross. There is no doubt that God the Son suffered. How this works entirely, I will not claim to understand.

What is known is that Jesus didn’t remain aloof from evil. He entered into it. He lived it. He took it on when He had no requirement to do so. It was an act of love.

It’s odd to say that evil is an objection to Christianity. Evil is part and parcel of the story. If there is no evil, there is no crucifixion and there is no resurrection.

Good Friday is good then because this is where the battle took place and Jesus took on the suffering and justice for us. Jesus demonstrated the love He has for the creation. At the same time, He demonstrated the love He has for the Father which in turn shows how the Father loves us.

It is sad to think about what happened on this day. It is a great evil that was done that day. What we learn from Christianity is that this evil was reversed. The promise is also that all evils will be reversed someday. Arguing against Christianity because of evil is a way of really removing hope of overcoming evil while still keeping the evil. It doesn’t make sense.

Today, we celebrate Good Friday. We mourn the evil that we have done, but we celebrate the love God has for us. We look forward to the resurrection on Sunday, and we look forward to the resurrection of all creation in the end.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why Good Friday?

Why did this day happen? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was married, my ex and I were watching the series on TV about Jesus that was made by Roma Downey and her husband. This one took some liberties with the text including a great line from Pilate upon the announcement that Jesus would be crucified. “He will be forgotten within a week.”

And you thought two weeks to flatten the curve were a long two weeks.

Here it is 2,000 years later and the world has been totally transformed by Jesus. Many of us do not notice the impact Christianity has on our lives. Art, literature, science, medicine, morality, philosophy, music, etc. All of these have been influenced by Jesus. More books have been written about Jesus than anyone else and more art and music has been done about Him than anyone else.

All of this started though that fateful day when Jesus was crucified, so what brought about that day? It’s beyond dispute that Jesus died by crucifixion. (No. I’m not at all going to treat those Jesus mythicists seriously.) The question to ask at this point is, “Why?”

Now a Christian could respond and say, “Well, Nick. Haven’t you been to church to hear? Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world.” Yes. That is why God allowed it, but is that the same as why it happened? No. Pilate was not standing there saying “This guy is innocent, but we have to crucify Him for the sins of the world.” The chief priests and Pharisees weren’t saying, “Jesus is a pretty good guy, but remember, we have to crucify Him. God needs it done to save the world.”

The question is simple, and yet it is not. Jesus is crucified. We all know that. How did He get up on that cross anyway? Perhaps an example will explain. InĀ Five Views on the Historical Jesus, John Dominic Crossan writes on how Jesus saw John the Baptist get beheaded for having an apocalyptic message, so Jesus shifted course. He was more into such talk as the love of God and the brotherhood of men then. That sounds all good and well until you ask a simple question. “Why was He crucified then?”

A Jesus going around and teaching just about the love of God is not going to get crucified. This Jesus is not a threat to anyone. This is like calling Barney the Dinosaur or Mr. Rogers a threat. This Jesus is harmless and note that Jesus is not just killed, He is crucified, a treatment designed to shame and humiliate, not just kill.

As a Christian, my answer is that Jesus was teaching about His rule in the Kingdom of God and what it would be like and taking power away from those who had it and challenging their right to dictate the way of God to men. Jesus was a threat because He kept humiliating His opponents in conflict over and over and He was doing so many miracles and wonders that the hand of God was undeniable on His life. Crucifixion would be a way of silencing everything as surely that would be the end of it all and no one would want to follow a crucified failure.

But yet, He wasn’t.

All that is being asked here is about a basic fact in history. Jesus was crucified. Why? What was He doing with His life that was so dangerous He had to be crucified? It is common for those of us who are Christians to press skeptics on the evidence for the resurrection. We should do the same with the crucifixion.

Today, we will celebrate that God did take this evil event and use it for the greatest good possible. I also hope we will think some on why this happened. Anything that helps us understand the life of Jesus better will help us live the life of Jesus today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Jesus Was Crucified. Why Call It “Good Friday”?

Is it morbid to refer to the day that Jesus was crucified as Good Friday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Good. What do we have in mind? If you asked for a good pizza, one with mouse droppings on it would quite likely not be what you have in mind. If you ask for a good movie, the one with the worst rating at Rotten Tomatoes would not be what you have in mind. If you asked for a good spouse, one who will abuse you and watch internet porn is not what you have in mind. If you ask for a good babysitter, you don’t want one who is a convicted and unrepentant pedophile. Yet here we talk about Good Friday and what do we say happened on it? Good Friday is the day that the righteous Son of God was crucified.

What was that?

You don’t even have to be a Christian at this point to see the problem. Even most non-Christians would hold Jesus up as a good figure worthy of emulation. Few would say that Jesus was the kind of man who deserved crucifixion. Yet that is exactly what happened. So why do we call this day “Good Friday”?

We do not call it good because something good happened. My stance with Jesus is that based on what we have from Him in the Gospels, either the crucifixion was the most righteous act of all that put to death the most wicked man who ever lived, or it was the most wicked act of all that put to death the most righteous man who ever lived. When we say that this was a wicked act, we say it because we believe Jesus was a righteous man. It is important to note that we are not saying the crucifixion was good or was a good action. Yet if it was not a good action, how can we speak then of Good Friday?

Simple reflection on your own past should show this. How many of us have gone through times that seemed absolutely horrible at the time and we would not want to repeat them ever again, but in the end we look back on those times and say “Yes. That was a terrible time, but I am ultimately glad I went through it because that time enabled XYZ to happen.” Perhaps it led to a new development in your life like a career path or a spouse, or perhaps it led to you developing a certain kind of character that helped you. You would never say that what happened was good, but you would affirm that it was used for good.

In fact, this is what we get in Romans 8. All things work together for good to them that love the Lord. Paul never once says that all things are good. He’s spent much of Romans telling us that much is not good. He instead says all things work for good. Of course, he does not suggest a reckless attitude. He does not think that you should do evil so that good may result, something he explicitly states in Romans 3. He is just saying that whatever happens, if you love the Lord, it will work out for your good. If all Christians everywhere could grasp this message and truly believe it, we would all live radically different lives.

What changes everything is the resurrection. Were it not for the resurrection, as Frank Turek has said, Good Friday would just be called Friday. In fact, no one would really care about that day. We would never have heard anything about Jesus. He would not be talked about at all today and would have died as a no-name in history not worth mentioning. The only reason we talk about Him today is not because of what happened on Friday, but it is because of what happened on Sunday and we really need to grasp what that was. Jesus rose from the dead indeed, but so what? What does that mean?

It means God has vindicated the claims of Jesus. Had He stayed dead, it would have been God saying “Yes. Those claims He made are false.” By raising Him from the dead, God gives the stamp of approval on Jesus’s life. Now there is a new king of this world. There was a challenge to Caesar then and a challenge to all Caesars today. The message we have to give to the world is that Jesus is King and you’d best get in line. We most often want to say it would be “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Can anyone imagine a herald going around the Roman Empire saying “Caesar is Lord and he has a wonderful plan for your life.” The claim is not about what Caesar will do for you. The claim is about what you will do for the Caesar, or in this case, what you will do for Christ.

Now does Christ do a lot for you? Yes. He does. He forgives you of your sins, He grants you a place in the Kingdom, and He promises to raise you up on the last day. That’s good, but if you stop there, then it’s like getting married and then saying “Now what is my spouse going to do for me?” You should be asking the most what you are going to be doing for your spouse. Jesus is not there to serve you. You are there to serve Jesus.

Good Friday is only good because we know it was used for good and we know that because of the resurrection. No one wants to say what happened was good, but God took the greatest evil done and used it for the greatest good. This should remind us all today that God can take the evil and suffering in our own lives and use that for a greater good.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Was Good Friday Good?

Why do we call the day of crucifixion Good Friday? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Today, we Christians celebrate what we call Good Friday. Looking over at my calendar (Might I add, my Smallville 2013 calendar) I see that it is indeed called Good Friday on there. Yet we acknowledge today in history as the day in which Jesus Christ, the most holy of all, was crucified.

Let us consider first off what happens this day. YHWH is essentially put on trial. Jesus, the one who is God in human flesh, stands before the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin wishes to use the Law that YHWH gave them not realizing who the one standing before them is. Will YHWH meet their standards of the Law of YHWH? Could it be possible this is what Dostoyevsky had in mind with his Grand Inquisitor who had Jesus brought forward for charges of heresy?

Jesus is sentenced for blasphemy. Yet beyond blasphemy, He is said to be claiming to be a king, and indeed this is right. In fact, if Jesus’s being YHWH was not right, the blasphemy charge would have also been right. The Jews were not mistaken on what Jesus said. They were mistaken in their not believing it.

So in doing so, the people have rejected Jesus as their king and have sentenced Him to be crucified. Of course, this was all part of God’s great plan for the world. To go back to Dostoyevsky, Ivan in the book asks his brother if he would be willing to create a world if he had to build it on the suffering of one innocent person. Apparently, God’s answer is “Yes.” That one suffering person is the Son.

Keep in mind what it means about Jesus in the crucifixion. With Jesus making the claims that He was making, the crucifixion was one of two things. It was either the most wicked act of all that put to death the most righteous man who ever lived, or it was the most righteous act of all that put to death the most wicked man who ever lived. Jesus, once again, reminds us that there is no neutrality with Him.

So why do we call it good?

Is it that Jesus was crucified and the action then is good? No. The Jews and Romans did a wicked thing. It is called good because this evil act became the means of salvation for the world. This is something found throughout the Bible. Joseph’s brothers intended something for evil and God meant it for good. Romans 8 is the key text on this. God is in charge of this world and if He allows something to happen, even the crucifixion of His own Son, then we can be assured that He will use it for good.

This gets us to the importance also of personal application. Whatever is going on in the world today and in our own personal worlds, we can know that if the crucifixion of the Son of God can be used in such a way that we call it “Good Friday” today, why do we doubt about everything else? Do we honestly think the God who can use the crucifixion of the Son for good cannot use what is going on for our own good as well? In fact, if we realize this point, we will be unstoppable.

Years ago, I got a Game Genie, which essentially allowed for cheating on games. You play a game very differently when you can’t die ultimately. Now at times you could play flippantly to be sure, but you could also play with great confidence. You knew in the end you were going to win.

We can also play the game with great confidence. In the end, we will win.

Never lose sight of that. Good Friday was just one day, but the promise of it is eternal.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Good Friday

What does this day really mean? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My wife and I lately have been watching biblical movies on the Gospel Music Channel. I don’t really care for Gospel Music any more, and frankly I don’t care for much Contemporary Christian Music either, but by and large I find the movies can give an interesting look, though I regularly do state that a lot of liberties are being taken with the text.

The great danger that can happen with the movies is often we will see something like Moses parting the Red Sea and think “Wow! Isn’t that fascinating!” and go on our way. We can think it an act of special effects much like the X-Men or Iron Man performing an action. The film crew makes it look so real that we do in fact often lose sight of the fact that it is real.

If we watch a movie like “The Passion of the Christ” we can often forget that what we are watching is in fact history. This really happened. When we see something on TV, it often does not impress on us the way that it really should. For an example of this, which do you think would be more striking in your mind. Seeing 9-11 happen on television or if you had been in New York City and saw it happen yourself?

Our images we have of the crucifixion cannot do it justice. I recall being in a chat room on AOL when the Passion was about to come out and some one came in who was saying they were upset because they made the crucifixion so graphic. (Apparently, they saw a preview of the film) I replied that in reality, they could not show the crucifixion the way it really was. This person was astounded and in disbelief.

We often see Jesus on the cross and the skin is still well intact on His body. It would not have been so in reality. Chances are you would have very easily seen the internal organs of our Lord. It would have been a sight that would have made the bloodiest horror film of our day receive only a G rating in comparison. This was an action so vile most in society would dare not even mention its name. It was the most shameful act that could be done to someone who opposed the Roman Empire.

And yet, we call today “Good Friday?” One can think of the small child immediately who would ask “Why would you say the day Jesus died is good?”

The child is entirely right to ask the question. The sad reality is that the adult usually doesn’t bother. In our society, we have our holidays mixed up. People start shopping months in advance for Christmas. We have Christmas music and Christmas stores and Christmas vacations and people going back and forth from state to state to celebrate Christmas.

On Easter, we have very little. There is little exchange of gifts and Easter vacations are not common.

Biblically however, Easter is the most important of the holidays. Of course, you could not have Easter without Christmas, but if all we had was the birth of Jesus and no resurrection, we would not even be celebrating the birth of Jesus at all. It would have been a failure. Chances are, no one today would know who Jesus was if He had not risen from the dead.

We must look at who Jesus was in His time. I will not argue for this now as other blogs of mine have done such, but Jesus was the divine incarnation of God Himself living amongst us and bringing about the Kingdom. He was the Messiah sent to redeem the world from what had happened to it and restore it to the Father.

Now when we see Jesus in this way, we can only see the crucifixion in one of two ways which makes Jesus so extraordinary. The first way is that Jesus was a wicked blasphemer and as C.S. Lewis would say, the very devil out of hell. If that was the case, then the crucifixion was the most righteous act of all that put to death the most wicked man who ever lived.

Suppose instead we orthodox Christians are right. Jesus was the second person of the Trinity visiting His people. The people He came to did not receive Him and instead crucified Him. If that is the case, then the crucifixion was the most wicked act of all that put to death the most righteous man who ever lived.

Of course, Christians hold to the latter. Why do we call this Good Friday then? Because we know this is when Christ began dealing the death blow to the powers that be. Paul says this in Colossians 2. The powers did not shame Jesus on the cross and make a spectacle of Him. Instead, He shamed them on the cross and made a spectacle of them.

This good Friday period ends with the resurrection, but right now, we are at the turning point in the story that has been being built for us from the Old Testament. History is going somewhere and right now, it is going upwards because Christ has risen and He is taking creation with Him to reach that fullness. Good Friday is the start and throughout this weekend, we will see how it ends.