Good Friday. Besides the redemptive act of the just dying for the unjust (that is, Jesus Christ dying for YOU and ME), there is something that distinguishes this Friday from all others, and secures its place among those things called excellent. It is the appeal of a man who will give no place to pity, who will go beyond himself to do that which calls attention to somebody else, and who will do whatever it takes to save your butt and mine without regard to his own. In case we all missed it in Sunday school, that’s what Christ did.
In chapter 4 of The Prodigal God, Keller gives an illustration of this which hits most of us right between the eyes. A woman married to an alcoholic is caught up in a cycle of disappointment with her husband, covering for her husband, and of feeling sorry for herself.
I immediately felt pretty sympathetic for the wife–wouldn’t you? After all, she probably didn’t sign up for Alanon at the altar. And she probably is keeping her end of the bargain. At the very least, she deserves the validation afforded someone who might stand on the rooftop and shout, “Somebody hear me–Anybody! I am right, and HE is wrong!”
Then Keller paints the red and white target and sticks it squarely on my forehead. He compares the behavior of the wife to that of relentless do-gooders/professing Christians who feel “their spotless record gives them the right to be highly offended and to perpetually remind the wrongdoer of his or her failure.” (Keller, p. 56).
In the illustration, when the wife continues to beat her husband over the head with his sin, and continues to cry foul because she’s so right and he’s so wrong, the alcoholic husband feels increasingly awful about himself and consequently, drinks even more. Initially, I wanted to scream when I read this. So HE sleeps with Johnny Walker Red, SHE helps him maintain a job and a family, and SHE’S in the wrong?
That initial fury however, was quickly squelched when the fact of her sin jumped off the page at me. Why? Because it flies in the face of the goodness of Friday.
What happens when a woman who has been “done wrong” solicits the pity of others? She gets it, because everyone feels she deserves it. Who gets the attention when an alcoholic fails to take care of his wife and family? The wife and family of course, because they have a right to a husband and father who knows what day of the week it is, don’t they? And for crying out loud–who is it that stands to gain when a wife beats up on an already defeated man in an effort to bolster her own self-image? The pitied wife and family who have sin issues of their own come out smelling like roses, while God is scarecely even found in the narrative.
Who needs God in order to do what comes naturally?
It’s when what is done can only be done supernaturally that peoples’ attention is drawn to God (Matthew 5:16).
So, I wonder what in the world made Jesus take the ridicule, the false accusations, the beatings, and the shameful death of the cross.
IT is what’s so good about Friday.