Good Friday is the most solemn day of the Christian Year. A reminder of the suffering and death of Jesus, who we call Christ. We remember his death on the cross, a death of self-offering love, and welcome into God's embrace with arms outstretched on that cross.
But it's also a day of loss. We impoverish ourselves if we skip over too quickly to the hope and promise of resurrection and forget that Jesus' death was a part of his ministry, a part of showing us the very nature and being of God.
One of the last phrases Jesus says from the Cross is 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' - a quote from Psalm 22 - a cry of utter desolation, of feeling completely cut off from the source of life, from the Divine.
So often, when we find ourselves in a place of suffering we too find ourselves asking what the meaning of our suffering is. We might turn to saying 'God is trying to teach me something,' but I don't believe that God does uses suffering to teach, nor does God move us around like pieces on a chess board - making some successful, rich, or healthy, and others sick, struggling, distressed. The message of Good Friday is that Jesus is alongside us in all of our suffering, suffering with us, walking with us, weeping with us.
It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The inscription of the charge against him read, ‘The King of the Jews.’ And with him they crucified two bandits, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!’ In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking him among themselves and saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.’ Those who were crucified with him also taunted him.
When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, ‘Listen, he is calling for Elijah.’ And someone ran, filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’ Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.