Today, Western Christianity commemorates Good Friday, the day when our Saviour was crucified. There are not many people more qualified to talk about the excruciating pain of loosing one’s child as theologian Ben Witherington. Here is the Good Friday meditation ha has shared on his blog on Patheos.
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On Good Friday the skies wept,
They just opened up and torrential rains came down.
Flooding the creeks, the brooks, the streams.
The rivulets became rivers, the rivers became swollen,
The lands disappeared, surrendered their hold to the rivers.
The ground under our feet, which once we took as forever firm and reliable and a place to stand, washed away.
The odd thing was we were washed clean, while the dirt, the sod was washed away, as if God’s tears were medicinal, purgative, purifying.
Losing an only child can produce uncontrollable weeping, and I was losing my eldest son the inheritor. But what could it be like if the One lost his only begotten One?
Everything I had taken for certain slipped away that day, it eroded like the ground beneath my feet.
I thought of the last days of ark building by Noah, I thought of Elijah’s sky opening miracles, I thought of the Red Sea rising up and swallowing the Egyptians, I thought of the earth submerged in water, formless and void. I began to see why John the revelator envisioned a new creation only after ‘the sea was no more’.
Most would have left before I did, headed for higher ground, but something made me stay and watch until the end, until water and blood emerged from his side and the skies opened up. There comes a point where there are no more words, and no more tears, but the sky was weeping for me. I shivered in the cold April wind, as my clothes were soaked by the torrent. I looked up one last time at the dead man hovering over my head, and a light dawned as I wiped the rain from my face. I heard the centurion say ‘Surely this was a righteous man’ who forgave his tormentors who acted in ignorance.
That day changed my view of the extreme punishment, of the cross. How could one so cursed offer such blessings while gasping his last? How could he take time to bequeath me to his beloved friend? How could he think of the fate of a bandit and offer him paradise, rather than focus on his own future? These things I pondered while keeping watch at the cross…. And the rain just kept pouring down.