Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 1, 2014

The oxymoron of Good Friday

By Pastor Maureen Howard, Immanuel Lutheran Church | Apr 18, 2014
Pastor Maureen Howard

I am not one who enjoys puzzles, especially word puzzles. Crossword puzzles are absolutely no fun; you want me to figure out a word that is six letters and is described using two words? Forget it! (Sodoku is just as bad). However, I do enjoy oxymorons — words that go together which seemingly are contradictory terms. Such examples of oxymorons are: jumbo shrimp, same difference, pretty ugly, peace force, sweet sorrow, irregular pattern, constant variable, deafening silence, dull roar, steel wool, and Good Friday.

One particular Friday, which commemorates deep sadness, darkness, profound suffering, crucifixion, and the death of Jesus, is matched with the word “good.” Yes, Good Friday the apparent ultimate oxymoron.

Yet, as dark and bleak as that day was, it changed the history of the world; then, now, and into the future. The suffering and death of Jesus, which appears to be the greatest triumph of evil, is actually God’s gracious actions to bring the world back to God’s self. We are a people who have turned away from the loving arms of God’s rule. We put ourselves in the place of God, turning inward to rely on ourselves to lead our lives. God is a mere afterthought in our daily lives; we are centered on our own needs, desires, and manipulations. On that Friday, Jesus willingly went to the hill outside Jerusalem to be crucified and humiliated like a common criminal. Jesus the Son of God, upon the cross that Friday, carried all our sins and delivered you and me from alienation to God. Yes, that Friday was terrible for Jesus but for us oh how Good it was. For on the cross we see what God’s forgiveness looks like, for the world and us. Good Friday an oxymoron: torture and death for Jesus yet forgiveness, mercy, and grace for us.

Death begins the weekend but LIFE has the victorious word as the new week begins. For on Sunday (Easter) the love of God raises Jesus from the grips of death, heralding God’s victory over our sin and death, and points to a resurrection future for all who are united to Jesus by faith (Romans 6:5). The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most significant events in the history of the world. St. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and God’s reign of righteousness, love, and grace.

Good Friday marks the day when our sin and God’s mercy meet on the cross. Good Friday an oxymoron: the goodness of forgiveness and life for us through the death of God’s Son, Jesus the Christ.

Join us at Immanuel Lutheran Church (1226 E. Washington St.) this Good Friday evening, 7:30 p.m. as we experience the awe of the cross. Worship with us again on Easter Sunday, at 6:30 and 10:30 a.m. to hear the proclamation that Christ is Risen! The promise of life for the world.

 

 

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