Faith and Sacrifice
Good Friday is not so much an historic event as an experience in the life of man. Older than Christianity is the experience of human suffering for the highest at the behest of an inner compulsion. More ancient than the law of self-preservation is the urge of self-dedication, driving man to new and more thrilling achievement. From motherhood to martyrdom, lives have been laid down on history’s altars, and red blood has mingled with white hope to leave a priceless heritage. A thousand such sacrifices proclaim the divinity of man more eloquently than a million battlefields. Why men have thus lived we may never know; but that they have values something more than their own immediate concerns is the glorious testimony of history. Man’s willingness to die for his fellows’ redemption is the perfect revelation of the humanity of God and the divinity of man. Verily, we are greater than we have ever dared to be!
— W. Waldemar W. Argow (1891-1961)
The Cross Lights the Way
Jesus had left his lifework incomplete. He have the world only the fragment of a normal career, but that unfinished life took on a world meaning. The enemies of light went down to ruin, but the cross towered above the darkness. The Roman Empire, with all its might of arms, its pomp and glory, ruled the world in defiance of the Christ-Spirit. But the Emperor Constantine saw the sign of the cross, and bowed to its command. Rome passed, but the cross still lights the way of human destiny.
— Charles G. Girelius
So Jesus was crucified with the consent and approval of the authorities of church and state. From their point of view no great issue was at stake. It was simply sound policy not to take any chance with potential leaders of the people who might arouse disorder. He died the victim of the cruelty, the thoughtlessness, the hardness of heart, the cowardice of ordinary people and men of responsibility.
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” asks the old spiritual. The answer is: “Yes, we were all there.” We were there in our fears and insecurities, in our blindnesses and petty cruelties, in our indifference, in our abdication of the love we owe our fellow men. “Must a Christ perish in every age?” asks the Bishop of Beauvais in Shaw’s Saint John. The answer so far seems to be “Yes” We may only think and work that it may not always be so.
Among the words attributed to Jesus are three:
A word of love which revealed the depth of his compassion: “Father, forgive them; they know not what they do.”
A word of wonder and pain which revealed the reality of his humanity: “My God, my God, what has thou forsaken me?”
A word of faith, which revealed the ground on which he stood: “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
— Harry C. Meserve (1914-2000)