I have always called today, “good” Friday, the day that the hope of the world died. But not until a couple of days ago did I start to wonder why we call it “good.” What can be good about a Savior of the world dying? How can I call that a good day?
For me, a good day is waking up around 830am, listening to a little sports talk radio while going through my morning routine, getting some reading done, playing video games, and sitting down to watch 24. That is a good day for me (I know I am very simple and pathetic). But I can’t imagine calling something good that ends in disappointment.
You might be wondering how Jesus death was a disappointment? Maybe it is maybe it is not, but I can imagine that the disciples viewed it that way. Jesus had “done things” to set himself up as a King, maybe not the way that others wanted, but He was becoming a King. The similarities between Jesus and the journey that any Roman official takes to become king Caesar were close to identical. It was only logical that Jesus was setting himself up to be a King.
Here are the direct contrast of a would be Caesar and Jesus: (Comes from Ray Vander Laan)
1) The Praetorian Guard (six thousand soldiers) gathered in the Praetorium. The would be-Ceasar was brought into the middle of the gathering.
2) Guards went to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, got a purple robe, and placed it on the candidate. The candidate was also given an olive-leaf wreath made of godl and a scepter for the authority of Rome.
3) Caesar was loudly acclaimed as triumphant by the Praetorian Guard.
4) A Procesion began through the streets of Rome, led by Soldiers. In the middle was Caesar. Walking behind him was a sacrificial bull, whose death and blood would mark Caesar’s entrance into the divine pantheon. Walking next to the bull was a slave, who carried an axe to kill the bull. Some accounts note that some people would spread sweet-smelling incense around the procession.
5) The procession moved to the highest hill in Rome, the Capitolene hil (“head hill”). On this hill is the Capitoleum temple.
6) The candidate stood befre the temple altar and was offered, but the slave, a bowl of wine.
7) The Caesar-to-be gathered his second in command on his right hand and his third in command on his left. Then they ascended to the throne of the capitoleum.
8) The crowd acclaimed the inaugurated emperor. And for the divine seal of approval, the gods would send signs, such as a flock of doves or a solar eclipse.
Now notice the similarties to Jesus of Nazerath:
1) Jesus was brought to the Praetorium in Jesusalem. And the whole company of soldiers (at least two hundred) gathered there.
2) Soldiers brought Jesus a wreath (of thorns), a scepter (an old stick) and a purple robe.
3) Sarcastically, the soldiers acclained, mocked, and paid homage to Jesus.
4) The procession began. But instead of a bull, the would be king and god became the sacrifice, the bull.
5) Jesus was led up to Golgotha. (In Aramaic Golgotha is not precisely “skull hill”-thats Calvary. Golgotha means “head hill,” like the Roman Capitolene).
6) Jesus was offered wine, andhe refused.
7) Next came the account of those being crucified on his right and left.
8) Jesus was again acclaimed (mocked) and a divine sign confirmed God’s presence (the temple curtain ripped in two). Finally the temple guard who pledged his allegiance to Caesar, the other “Son of God” was converted and acclaimed this man as the Son of God.
For more close reading check out Mark Gospel account in the bible.
I can’t help but notice the similarities, but not in a good way. It seemed that “our King” was going to die and never come back. Because of His death, things were going to change, and the idea of following “the way” was over. And yet, unlike an earthly King, a Caesar like figure, our King, Jesus, goes beyond death, something that no earthly king can do. On this “good” Friday I try to remember why it is called good, because I know that my King brought life, and death cannot hold Him nor I back. Praise God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Anti-king. On this good Friday, I look not for an earthly king, but one that will reign forever in heaven.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.