Have you ever wondered why the day Jesus was crucified has always been referred to as “Good Friday?” Growing up in a Catholic household I could never understand that terminology as the day certainly wasn’t a very good day for the Son of Man. But this being the beginning of Resurrection weekend I’ve found myself contemplating what this day more than 2,000 years ago must have really been like for the Savior.
Because Jesus was born for the sole purpose of dying for the sins of mankind, you have to wonder if he felt worry, anxiety and fear the same way we mere mortals do. Jesus was human after all, so one would have to assume that He battled a great deal of pre-crucifixion anxiety.
A few weeks ago I had to have a routine, mildly invasive routine medical procedure that really brought the meaning of Easter home to me. Obviously a colonoscopy in no way compares to the gruesome brutality of Christ’s crucifixion and it’s not my intent to minimize Christ’s suffering. But oddly enough the period leading up to my procedure really gave me pause for thought about the gamut of emotions Jesus must have felt leading up to his crucifixion.
For the three weeks prior to my colonoscopy I found myself dreading the procedure and all that it would entail. Each day I’d check the calendar and mentally countdown how many days remained until I had to suffer this uncomfortable procedure.
My imagination feared the unknown of what the doctor might find; I worried over the preparation necessary to clean out my system in order to be ready for the procedure. I fretted over the necessary fasting required beforehand. I feared the pain that might accompany the whole process. And I even worried that the drugs they would give me during the process wouldn’t be strong enough to mask the discomfort.
In spite of all my prayers, I couldn’t simply relax and trust God. I was straight up scared. Several friends and family members felt inclined to share their own horror stories of their experiences which only compounded my anxiety and worry.
Fasting for the 24 hours prior to the actual procedure was in and of itself extremely difficult for me. I don’t skip meals very graciously. Let’s be honest … I like to eat. But even one day of fasting made me wonder how Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert. To me that seems like an insurmountable obstacle.
The clean out process was equally as difficult but once I started gagging down the “go juice” (which quite frankly tasted like pure evil) I quickly forgot about the emptiness of my stomach. Even in this, God was with me teaching me valuable life lessons.
*Humorous sidebar here (for there must always be something to laugh at in life): on the morning of the procedure, the last thing I remember before the drugs kicked in was hearing the song “Wild Thing,” playing in the background from the doctor’s private selection of surgical tunes from the physician’s Hit Parade. Quite frankly, “Wild Thing,” is the last song I wanted to hear when I was about to have my pipes snaked by a doctor with a probe.
Luckily my test came out fine and nothing unusual was discovered for which I am profoundly grateful. While the test itself was mildly uncomfortable, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as my imagination had feared. It’s been three weeks since my procedure, yet I find myself contemplating my ordeal and all the worry and dread leading up to it.
Christ knew early on in His life that the purpose of His existence was to one day be crucified in our place for the sins of the world, yet He still chose to make that sacrifice. Did He keep that day in the back of His mind, mentally counting down how many years, months, days were left until He would be beaten, tortured, humiliated and ultimately crucified?
He had to know that He would suffer immeasurable pain. He was God in the flesh after all. Don’t we as humans all fear physical pain? Did Jesus suffer anxiety and fear to the point of wanting to change His mind and renege on the plan God had set out for Him?
Matthew 26:42 says: Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” (NLT)
Christ could have opted out of Calvary knowing full-well what He was about to endure, yet He chose not to. Somehow His sacrifice for me puts my own worries, fears and anxieties in their proper place. While “Good Friday” was an agonizing day for Jesus, God the Father, Jesus’ family and His disciples, I am thankful He made the sacrifice that guarantees me eternal life.
Today is good Friday, but Sunday, Resurrection Day is even better.
Let the resurrection joy lift us from loneliness and weakness and despair to strength and beauty and happiness. ~Floyd W. Tomkins
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 46 At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Matthew 27:45 (NLT)