The Crucifix and Good Friday

crucifix
Why turn to the crucifix?

Because the crucifix is a sign of victory and hope. It holds the fact that our lives will hold suffering and pain and sin and the effects of sin. We look at the crucifix, at Jesus on the cross, and we remember that Jesus understands our suffering and what we are going through. Jesus dealt with pain due to the effects of sin and evil in our world.

On Good Friday, we remember the darkness and despair that the disciples felt when the long-promised Savior was gone and not only gone, but taken from them. Good Friday reminds us that our actions have consequences. Our sinfulness and inability to see the Messiah in our lives has consequences.

The crucifixion, however, is not the end of the story. Jesus Christ rose. Good Friday reminds us of God’s power and ability to transform the darkest of hours and the darkest of situations and the moments of utter despair. We remember on Good Friday what happened to Jesus and what he did for us and how God sacrificed his Son for us. However, we celebrate and believe and know that death is not the end of the story.

God overcame death. Christ rose from the dead so that we might fully know and understand that he was our Savior, our light, our hope, our way, our truth, and our life. Jesus revealed and showed us his Father. Jesus revealed to us God’s ability to heal, to love, to show mercy, and to walk with us in our suffering. The Resurrection shows us that evil does not win. God, in his infinite power and ability to transform anything, wins.

And don’t we need that? Don’t we need mercy and love and hope and a promise of an abiding presence in our lives? That is why we need the crucifix. That is why we need Good Friday. To remember that Jesus’ suffering is our suffering. To remember what Jesus did on our behalf. To remember that Jesus was able to overcome death so that we might have eternal life, eternal hope, and eternal belief that we are not alone, even in our darkest hours.

Today, many of us will go to church and venerate the cross. Let us remember the words of Pope Benedict XVI when he said the only sign we need “is Jesus raised on the Cross: Jesus who died and rose is the absolutely sufficient sign. Through him we can understand the truth about life and obtain salvation.” (Homily on March 26, 2006). Through this sign, we know the way to our salvation.

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Becky Eldredge
Becky Eldredge is a writer and spiritual director in Baton Rouge, LA. The author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls and The Inner Chapel, Becky holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Education from Louisiana State University and a Masters in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University New Orleans. She has her Certificate in Spiritual Direction from Spring Hill College. Becky has been involved in ministry for more than 15 years, with the majority of her work in retreat ministry and adult faith formation. While ministry is one of her passions, her greatest joy is sharing life with her husband, Chris, and her children, Brady, Abby, and Mary.

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is so easy to make crucifixion a static thing to forget its true horror, as Roman crucifixes and the icons of the eastern churches affix a figure to the cross. Protestants most frequently just use the symbol sans any representation of the flesh and blood that once hung there. Probably the word that best describes the death process is “writhing”. The nails usually went between the two bones in the wrist (if placed in the hands they could easily pull out) and one over the overlapping feet. The victim (is there another word?)would then hang on his hands until the pain became too terrible to bear; then he would shove up on his feet until that pain became too excruciating. This process was repeated over many hours until the victim died of suffocation, the chest muscles giving out just as if one had been doing too many pull-ups. If the authorities wanted to hasten the process, they would break the legs as was threatened in the Gospels. Also Jesus expired so quickly compared to most that this gave basis for the charge that he only fainted and the body was taken away and that he later revived. However, the lance was intended to ensure a human death.

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