We shouldn’t be surprised by Good Friday.
After all, we are familiar with the events of the day. Not just in the historical sense, but because we have lived them. No, not exactly as they happened, but we have bloodied our knuckles on something similar.
We celebrate that God in flesh understands what it means to be human, and identifies with us as one who has had his feet covered in dust. We find comfort in his knowing what we know.
What do you know?
You know that it is the proximity to the heart that makes betrayal sting like an 8 gauge needle. You are cautious, only allowing those who have earned a place, to come close; which makes the surprise exit hurt worse than the stabbing.
You have limped after cruel words, sticks and stones, have injured flesh and soul. You are bruised. You have bruised.
You’ve wept at the loss of loved ones, and objected to God about the early removal of people you love from the world.
Nothing about Good Friday should surprise us. Nothing about it should catch us off guard. The events that unfolded that day are horrendous, brutal, painful, and sad. But they are not surprising.
Perhaps it is that the events happen to an innocent man that bewilder us. The betrayal and brutality do not surprise us, but the suffering of an innocent that takes our breath away. We can imagine the events of Good Friday happening, but not to someone who is without guilt. But even that shouldn’t surprise us. No one gets out of the world with unscathed. If we are surprised that Jesus experienced the ruthlessness of the world despite his innocence, then I don’t think we have been paying attention.
The danger is to pretend that we are somehow above the various players in the Good Friday story. We would stay awake all night. We wouldn’t be quick to deny our relationship to Jesus. We wouldn’t cry for blood, despite the fact that we are often joyous spectators of violent games. Forgetting our own willingness to point fingers full of accusations, we fabricate righteous indignation at events that, while magnified, are ordinary. Nothing happened on Good Friday that doesn’t happen with outstanding and despairing regularity.
Good Friday reveals the truth of the world, highlighting the brokenness of our hearts. In this moment, we hear the guttural groans of creation longing for the coming new creation.
If we are surprised, it is only in noticing, perhaps for the first time, that God is groaning too.