This Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Christians around the world will observe Palm Sunday, a day of celebration as it recounts the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. The gospels tell us that he rode in on the back of a donkey and that palm branches and cloaks were strewn on the road before him. Shouts were lifted up by his followers. "Hosanna! Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!" Of course, within hours it would all begin to sour, and by the end of the week he will have been arrested, tried, and crucified. Crucified on the day ironically named Good Friday.
Over the years I have almost inevitably been asked, why do we call it good? It was a horrible event. Gruesome at best, totally undermining of his life and work at worst. And that, of course, is true in one sense. No doubt it was gruesome. Horrible. Humiliating even. But maybe that's why we call it good. Because Jesus refused to be humiliated. He was humble, yes, the donkey was perfect earlier in the week. But not humiliated. Because despite all the horror of his final days, torture, ridicule, an exceptionally horrid death, Jesus continued to hold out love. Love for the men he was crucified with, love for his captors and executioners. Love for his disciples, despite the fact that most of them fled the scene. These are not the acts of a man who is humiliated, these are the acts of a man who knows who he is.
Yes, he does cry out "Father, father why hast thou forsaken me," as he trunks his eyes heavenward (or inward) but later he turns himself over to the same God he questions. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting Good Friday is a day to celebrate--but it is a day to observe
. It is a day to hold up the example Jesus provides in his last hours. It is good because if we pay attention, we can learn how to better be who we are created to be. ons and daughters of God, come hell or hig water. Loved and valued.