The English playwright and author, Somerset Maugham, once wrote his views thus on death: “Death is a very dull, dreary affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing to do with it.”
From time immemorial, man had a compelling desire to perpetuate life. It is true that no man wants to die, and as Steve Jobs put it, “Even those who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there.” Yet, there are instances of heroic men laying their lives down for a larger cause and a lofty purpose. Yet again, in all of history, there is none quite like the death of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whose crucifixion and death Christians all the world mourn today, in profound sorrow and grief.
What sets Jesus’ death as an unparalleled historic truth is the fact that innocent blood was shed and a compassionate spiritual leader was slain as ransom for the sins of all humanity. There is more to this striking incongruence. Prior to His crucifixion, He was scourged, tortured, scorned and made to carry a heavy cross up Mount Calvary, which His persecutors thought befitting for all the blasphemy He dared in His three years of public ministry.
As He brought God’s love to man, He dared to forgive all sins, including the gravest ones of those of prostitutes and tax collectors; He dared to heal the sick and give sight to the blind; He dared to feed the hungry and teach wisdom to the common man; He dared to love the lepers and make friends with the lowly; He dared to show His comrades a whole new way to live and love; And most of all, He dared to call God, His Father, and promised to reveal God to those who would believe in complete faith – all of these charges were seen to deserve the most shameful of deaths.
And so, He was put to the most humiliating death in all of History. Even so, this shameful death would become for man, the bridge to God.
This death would earn man His salvation. This death would seal God’s divine plan to become Man, so that man could become God-like. This death would become the Glory of the Christ Crucified.
Good Friday, therefore, becomes for all Christians the day that muted evil, crushed falsehood, choked treachery and conquered sin.
It is the day, though dark and grim, that shines ever so brightly with the glory of a Man who was God.
Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese poet, brought out this glory eloquently as he wrote of the Crucified Jesus: “Thou art, on the Cross, more glorious and dignified than one thousand kings upon one thousand thrones in one thousand empires!”