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  • Writer's pictureJoe Mayers

Bad Friday

Updated: Apr 2

One of my favorite comic strips is of a man sitting and talking with Jesus. The man remarks that not only does the Church celebrate resurrection Sunday, but we also memorialize the day that Jesus died. Jesus responds by asking what the Church calls that day, and there is a long silence before the man abashedly looks away and squeaks out the answer: “Bad Friday.”


On the surface, this satire is simply an amusing moment between Jesus and one of his people. Because we know the victorious conclusion, we can imagine Jesus celebrating with humor in a heavenly setting. But, to me, this silly comic brings up an important question: how can we call the murder of our Creator good?


A close friend’s betrayal is not “good.” Lying to manipulate a criminal charge is not “good.” Torturing and killing an innocent man is not “good.” In fact, none of the steps leading to and including Jesus’ death are good.


At least, not by themselves.


Before the triumphant resolution of Sunday came the dramatic, incomprehensible dissonance of Friday. The tension dragged on into Saturday as Jesus lay in an undisturbed tomb, and, to all who observed, the badness began to solidify. If this were the end of the story, we would not call any of it good; we would call it one of the greatest travesties ever to haunt mankind. It was not until Jesus burst from the grave, conquering the curse, defying death, that we gained the perspective to call this Friday “good.”  


God always had a good plan for our redemption, but it required Jesus, the very Word made flesh, to bear a series of evils to accomplish. His faithfulness has purchased for us not only eternal life, but an understanding of God’s plan which existed before the foundation of the world. In effect, Jesus amplifies for us the sentiment of Joseph in Genesis chapter 50: “You planned evil against me; God planned it for good to bring about the present result – the survival of many people.”


Even so, it remains difficult for us to comprehend sometimes. The apostle Thomas refused to believe any good had come from the evil until he saw the scars in Jesus’ hands and side. But the Lord did not withhold from Thomas. He showed his disciple the scars, then went on to minister to hundreds more before ascending to heaven – still bearing the marks he earned by taking the punishment for our sin.


It is for this reason that our celebration is not one of morbidity, but of hope. It is why the crucifix can be for us a sign of victory rather than death. The scars on our savior’s resurrected body are a visible reminder of evil being divinely reworked for good, so even as we meditate on his brutal sacrifice, we can glimpse an eternal perspective of joy.


I am remembering something else this week, too. As I write this, it is the two-year anniversary of my son Obadiah’s death. It is not good for a child to die. It is not good for a mother and father to go through life without their baby. It is not good for a brother to visit his sibling’s grave instead of playing make-believe together. None of them are good.


At least, not by themselves.


Before the triumphant resolution of our reunion, comes the incomprehensible dissonance of this life. The tension drags on, and my still-fallen mind screams that the badness is solidifying. If this were the end of the story, it would be the greatest tragedy I could imagine. But this is not the end of the story.


My son was not a savior, but his future and mine are certain because of one. My son did not rise from his grave, but one day he will. Because of God’s good plan for our redemption, I know that one day the same Lord who gave himself up for us will wipe away these present, bitter tears and make all things new.


Even so, it remains difficult to comprehend sometimes. Much like Thomas, I crave a tangible reminder of what good can come from all this bad. And much like Jesus did for his disciple, he holds out his hands as a reminder of the work he has already accomplished.


This is the holy intersection of hope where these stories meet.


Because of Jesus, the sweet memories and certain future with my son can overcome the bitterness of his loss. Because of Jesus, I can celebrate the ultimate victory of life over the profound sadness of untimely death. Because of Jesus, even in the midst of this shadowy valley, I can glimpse the bright, eternal perspective of joy.


Jesus understands our pain because he has borne it all upon himself. His sacrifice was good. Let us remember him this week with solemness and with joy.



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