Good Friday has become one of my favorite days of the year. As I wrote earlier this week, I never went to a Good Friday service growing up. For the past 10 years, though, I have both attended and preached at Good Friday services. I love the opportunity to pause and reflect on the cross. I am ecstatic that the tomb is empty and the cross was defeated, but that doesn’t mean I should overlook the cross. Good Friday allows us to really focus on the cross and everything that Jesus went through during his final hours.
I love this day and how it’s only because of Good Friday that Easter Sunday is so wonderful.
Good Friday was the darkest day in history, when everything looked its bleakest. Jesus was dead and it appeared like evil had won. The Messiah who had walked on water and healed the broken, hung from a cross and was himself broken. Everything was wrong and nothing looked like it would ever be right again.
Revenge of the Sith feels a lot like Good Friday. Chancellor Palpatine seizes control of the Republic, the Jedi Order is destroyed and Yoda and Obi-Wan are forced into exile. If any situation looked completely hopeless, it was the fall of the Republic. And, for almost 20 years, the situation was completely hopeless.
I love Revenge of the Sith and how it examines the rise of the Empire and the breaking of Anakin and Obi-Wan’s relationship. Not only is hope lost for the galaxy, but we can see the personal hopelessness in Obi-Wan’s face. He believed that Anakin would bring balance to the Force, and instead he’s forced to almost destroy his Padawan.
On Good Friday there were cosmic repercussions for what happened, the appearance that evil had conquered good. But, like Obi-Wan, there were also the personal implications. All of Jesus’ followers, who had left their lives for their rabbi, had their worlds shattered. The person to whom they had committed their lives was executed as a criminal and buried in a borrowed tomb.
I love Star Wars: Rebels and Rogue One because they show us the evil of the Empire, not on a grand scale, but for regular people just living their lives. Again, looking at all of these familiar stories from the Bible, we can’t forget that real people saw their friend brutally murdered. So as we reflect on the cross this Good Friday, we need to remember the real people who experienced so much pain and anguish so that we could celebrate come Easter morning.
This Good Friday I don’t want to get lost in all of the cosmically and theologically important aspects of Good Friday. I want to focus in on the tears, pain and anguish of those who walked through it, especially Jesus himself. As much good as Good Friday accomplished, it didn’t feel very good for those who experienced it. And, as I think about the personal nature of the pain, I pray that it will make me even more grateful to Jesus for what he did for me and more committed to someone who was so committed to me.