I have never really understood Good Friday, beginning with what’s so good about it. Today is the lowest point on the Christian calendar, the day a charismatic young man, recently come back from the wilderness where he had turned down Satan’s transparently better offers, was nailed to a cross. Over the intervening 2,000 years Christians have killed a great many Jews in retribution, so it obviously hasn’t been a good day for everyone. Crucifixion was a not uncommon and excruciatingly slow way to die (remember the scene with the crucified slaves from Spartacus?), and it has both horrified and baffled me since I was a child. I spent five years in a church school, where these were not incidental questions, and I have listened since to ministers and radio preachers say that Christ died for me, for us, for our sins. This doesn’t get me very far, and when I press for more, I'm told that the crucifixion is the sign of God’s love for mankind. I remember that sacrificing your child had also come up with Abraham and Isaac, and as the father of four, it never sat very well with me.
As I grow older I am learning, slowly, to take responsibility for my own sins, which isn’t nearly as easy as blaming someone else. But it seems so indispensable to my self-understanding that I’m reluctant to farm it out. Perhaps, Jesus is the image of each of us accepting ourselves and our lives, as painful as that can be. Just no nails, please.