Happiness is….Good Friday
Why Good Friday?
I must admit I’ve always had a little bit of problem wrapping my mind around the fact that we take a day in which an innocent man was convicted, beaten, made to carry his own instrument of death, had spikes driven into his body, humiliated and died an excruciating death, and we call it Good Friday.
The Germans call it Karfreitag, which is translated to “Sorrowful Friday.” Some believe that it was originally called GOD Friday. But as horrific as it was, it was a sacrifice that gave us an eternal hope that billions of Christians would have never known. So for us, it wasn’t just a good Friday, it was the BEST.
My favorite Good Friday scripture is Mark 15:39: And when the centurion, which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.
Back in the early 80’s, after graduating from VA Tech, I was living in southwest Virginia. The Methodist Church I attended had a very special Easter sunrise service at a local cemetery. It began with the crucifixion and ended with the empty tomb. I was blessed to be chosen to play the Centurion. Even though it was only about 40 degrees on that early April morning, I wore sandals, shorts with a towel wrapped around my waist, and a white t-shirt as a tunic. I pushed the person, portraying Christ, up the hill. He carried the cross. At the top, I pushed him and the cross down, and stretched his hands to the spikes that had been previously driven into the cross beam. I took a large hammer, and began hitting the head of the spike. The noise echoed hauntingly throughout the cemetery. I had a blood capsule concealed in my hand that was wrapped around the spike. On about the third strike, I squeezed the capsule. It erupted from my fist, splashing onto my face, my arms, and my tunic.
At that moment, I was transposed back to that day 2000 years before. I was the Centurion, and looking down into the eyes of the man on the cross, I knew he was the Messiah. My whole body was overwhelmed with grief, with love, with gratitude, and with a dedication to this man called Christ to a depth I had never known before.
Every Good Friday since then, this experience comes back to me. I never thought anything could fill me with that same feeling. But 30 years later, I would again experience it, in the form of a painting.
Helmet of Salvation
Judy and I enjoy taking an annual trip to the Gatlinburg area. Behind the Pigeon Forge Mill is a horseshoe-shaped collection of small shops. One was an artist shop. Spencer Williams is one of the most amazing artists I ever met. He specialized in Christian art. Over the years, before he closed the shop, I bought about 10 prints, and gave them to various churches, including my home church, in memory of very special people. My favorite print that I bought is the one I’m showing with this blog and is called The Helmet of Salvation.
The picture I show won’t be large enough to show the detail, so let me describe it to you. The Centurion is looking up at the crucified Christ, but all you can see are the feet. The blood has dripped down onto the Centurion. But in the helmet, you see a full reflection of the crucified savior. Spencer is actually the model used for the centurion, and he once told me that this was one of the most humbling pieces he had ever painted.
It’s your time to reflect:
So I hope you’ll take a few moments to read these words, and to study the picture. I want you to accept that this day marks The Greatest Friday our world has ever known. I want you to realize that all the pandemics, wars, and economic collapses will never take away our promise of eternal life.
I invite you to enjoy my other blogs at www.BringingHopeAndHappiness.com, I’d also love for you to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org