Reflecting on the turmoil facing our world right now, I had to consider the proper grammatical title for this blog post. Is it: A Good Dark Friday?
Or A Dark Good Friday?
The rules of adjectives allow both to work. I can conceive of a particular Friday being dark and dreary weather-wise, but nevertheless a day full of good news or great productivity. It would be a good dark Friday.
But clearly this will not work for the holy Christian day we call Good Friday. It’s the goodness of this particular Friday that we confess, despite the darkness of our times. It may be dark, but it is definitely good. It is a Dark Good Friday.
In the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death, we’re told that there was darkness over the face of the earth for about three hours from noon until three in the afternoon (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44).
Debates notwithstanding about what caused this darkness to descend (a solar eclipse? some strange meteorological phenomena? an act of God?), we ought not to dismiss it as just an odd detail of the story.
That the world was filled with darkness as Jesus died is theologically significant, both from divine and human perspectives.
From the divine perspective, with the death of Jesus God allows the darkness of sin to invade His very being. Many have preached that in this moment, God literally abandoned Jesus on the cross, but I’m not convinced of that reading. The unity of God’s eternal nature cannot be divided. The triune God cannot turn on Himself without ceasing to be God.
Rather, Jesus’ cry of dereliction from the cross — “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”— is the cry of Jesus bearing human sin. He takes on, as a fully human participant, the weight of our sins. His cry is our
cry. Jesus’ cry is, from the human perspective, the moment when in the darkness of that day Jesus Christ, with whom the Father shares his divinity, became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21) as the apostle so strikingly puts it.
These are horrifying things to ponder. God in and through His very own Son took the darkness of sin, war, plague, disease, violence, crime, persecution, lust, greed — the list is nearly endless — upon Himself. God of God, Light of Light allows this darkness of sin and evil to invade His very being.
The descent of darkness on Good Friday declares part one of the Good News of Easter. That our sin, our violence, our rebellion has been borne by God. Thus, we ought not to rush too quickly over this darkness, as Christians are apt to do at times.
Yes, it is true that “it’s Friday, but Sunday’s a-coming.” But Good News, of course, is usually preceded by darkness, dread and turmoil. And it is in those hours of darkness on Good Friday that we need to allow ourselves to mourn and lament that evil, sin and violence, though already borne by God in Christ, continue to wreak havoc in our world until the final day of redemption.
As I wrote this on Maundy Thursday, 50 days have passed since the start of the Ukraine war. What a dreadful reminder of the havoc that the human spirit can still spread, even as we wait for the great day of Christ’s righteous return to right all evils.
But it is in this unimaginable situation that we can nevertheless declare: this is a Dark, yet Good Friday.
Author: David Guretzki