The Terrifying Thing about Good Friday

ImageWhatever you think of the “necessity” of Jesus dying, the facts are that he was crucified. That is how he died. That a figure named Jesus was likely crucified is one of the most historically provable facts about him, in that it’s testified to by several external historical sources.

As Borg and Crossan remind us over and over crucifixion was a very specific penalty for a very specific kind of “crime.” It was a political penalty, delivered by political authorities. The powerful Roman Empire had no reason to bend to the feckless religious leadership in any of the lands they’d conquered, much less Israel. Therefore, if you’re one of those Christians who still embraces the idea that “the Jews killed Jesus” it’s beyond time to let that go.

Jesus was murdered at the hands of the state, in a method reserved for criminals and enemies of the state…insurrectionists, foreigners and revolutionaries.

Whatever else Jesus did in his life, it’s impossible to explain away that died because he got crossways with Rome. He got crossways with political power. This religious leader died because of something that frightened political leaders.

In a sense, then, my own theology tells me that much of the talk of a “necessary” death (most atonement talk) is a way for us to avoid this terribly uncomfortable truth. It’s a lot easier, and strangely more comforting, to believe in a savior who takes away our personal sins, than one who stood up to the Powers That Be and paid the ultimate price.

Because, if he stood up to the Powers That Be…as we’ve just noted the real evidence suggests he must have…then what else could he have meant for us to do, when he told us to “take up your cross and follow me?”

And that is what’s truly terrifying about Good Friday.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He is Senior Pastor of Kessler Park UMC United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. Previously, he was pastor at Northaven UMC in Dallas for seventeen years. Eric loves to write on topics of spirituality, social justice, music/art and politics. The entries on this blog reflect that diversity of interests. His passion for social justice goes beyond mere words. He’s been arrested at the White House, defending immigrants and “The Dreamers,” and he’s officiated at same sex weddings in his churches, in defiance of what some believe is Methodist teaching. Eric is an avid blogger and published author, and 2017 recipient of the prestigeous Kuchling Humanitarian Award from Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner. (Human Rights Campaign) Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He’s a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named “best judge” by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County, and is currently the longest service district judge in that district. She was re-elected for a fourth term in 2018. They have the world’s best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. Find links to Eric’s music-related websites, at the top of this site’s navigation menu.

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