The paradoxical beauty of Good Friday

March 2018 · Ministry News

Today is Good Friday, and this Lent we’ve been sharing weekly reflections by members of The Saint Francis Foundation’s Church Relations team. The Very Rev. Chas Marks has written a few thoughts for today.

There is an ancient legend about the origins of the wood of the Cross. In it, as Adam lay dying, he sends his son Seth back to the locked Garden of Eden, in search of a medicine from the Tree of Life which would give him immortal life. Seth is met at the gates by an angel who refuses the elixir, but instead gives Seth three seeds from the Tree of Knowledge and tells him to plant the seeds in the grave with his father and from these seeds will grow a tree that will bear fruit which will one day save Adam and once again give him life.

Per the legend, from these seeds came a great tree. This tree is linked with various other stories from the Old Testament. For instance,  it was under the shade of this tree that David composed the Psalms. But most importantly, it was from this same tree that the Cross on which our Savior died was made.

Jesus was the long foretold fruit of this tree and his death on its trunk saved Adam and all humanity from sin and death and opened the way to life immortal. There is much to love about this pious legend. The tree at the center of the story of humanity’s fall from grace into sin gives birth to the tree which will become the Cross – the instrument of our salvation. From Adam’s tomb, fertilized by his body, climbs the tree that saves us from death itself and reconciles us to God. It conveys to us the truth that God uses humanity’s brokenness to save us from ourselves.

This legend captures so much of the paradoxical beauty that is this day which we call Good Friday. An apparatus of cruel and shameful torture and death has become for us the ultimate symbol of God’s love for us. Because there, on the Cross, our Lord Jesus offered his life for our sake. By his death, we are saved from everlasting death. In his death on the Cross, our Lord conquers sin and death once and for all.

This is not a day that we celebrate, but neither is it a day in which we mourn. Good Friday reminds us of God’s immense love for each of us, for all of us. Perhaps it is best a day when we give thanks; give thanks to God for such a wonderful act of love.

What wondrous love is this, O my soul! O my soul!

What wondrous love is this! O my soul!

What wondrous love is this! That caused the Lord of bliss

To lay aside his crown, for my soul, for my soul!

To lay aside his crown for my soul!

(Hymn 439, The Hymnal 1982)