Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Good Friday Thoughts

Random Good Friday Thoughts

According to the lunar calendar today is designated as Good Friday. What was ‘good’ about the crucifixion death of Jesus of Nazareth? How could such an unjustified, cruel execution be considered in any way as ‘good.’

Roman Catholic historians explain the now obsolete Latin words ‘pious’ or ‘holy,’ not ‘good,’ was the original name of the commemoration. So, Good Friday was known in the beginning as Holy Friday or Great Friday. Something was lost for the common folk when the name of this observance was translated into 14th or 15th century English as Good Friday.

The ‘good’ in the event relates to those who believe Jesus’ sacrifice brought all of sinful humanity into fellowship and right relationship with God – that is, if they believed Jesus is who he said he was.

If it is so important to make a special day of the Son of God’s death, why is there nothing said of such an annual occasion for centuries? Why did not the ancient scriptures speak of such a time and why did the translations of those words into the languages of the world not comment on the need for such a ‘rememberance’?

Paul and other writers of the New Testament, focus on the significance of Jesus’ crucifixion, while saying almost nothing about the event itself. No need to do that. The first readers of the New Testament knew the horror of such a death. They knew what it was like for someone to be crucified. What little we do know of death by crucifixion was not a happy event.

The site of the crucifixion and the tomb were not considered by the peoples of Jerusalem for hundreds of years as anything special. There were no special services until the Byzantium rulers up in Constantinople saw it as a great pilgrim-tourist-spot.

Paul wrote the crucifixion of Jesus was a great “stumbling block to Jews” (First Corinthians 1:23). It was not something important to anyone but God and the new ‘Way of Christ’ people. To God, Jesus’ death made possible the ability to be right with God. Paul wrote in this connection, “let those of us who are mature be thus minded” (Philippians 3:15).

Early Orthodox Churches had elaborate festivities and services for the day, beginning the night before. In England the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer did not specify a particular rite to be observed on Good Friday.

Lutheran tradition from the 16th to the 20th century, Good Friday was the most important holiday, and abstention from all worldly works was expected by the faithful.

In the United States, 11 states observe Good Friday as a state holiday. In many English-speaking countries, such as Singapore, most shops are closed for the day and television and radio advertising are limited. (That would make it a REAL Good Friday.)

In Hong Kong and Macau, all businesses and government offices are closed for a public holiday, even though both are now a part of the People’s Republic of China. Hot cross buns were a tasty treat in former British colonies.

For a different view, the Muslim Koran (Sura 4,157-158) mentions the crucifixion of Jesus in one verse which reads: “... and they (the Jews) have said, “Verily we have slain Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the apostle of God. But they slew him not, neither crucified him, but it seemed to them as if (or: he seemed to them to be crucified). They did not kill him with certainty. No, God took him up unto himself.” (Sura 4, 157-158. For Muslims, translations are not considered authoritative. Only the Arabic Koran is considered holy.)

Dr. Christine Schirrmacer’s 1997 article on the Muslim meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion, writes: “… the Koran does not even mention or hint at the meaning of the crucifixion of Jesus as the salvation of His people. It is very likely that Muhammad, who came into contact with heretical monophysites [believed Jesus had but one nature] and other Christian sects of his time, had never heard a true, biblical representation and explanation of the meaning of the crucifixion, which is therefore not to be found in the Koran.”


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