Good Friday service at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit in Penang
Christians believe Good Friday is the day Jesus was crucified and died for our sins.
But that doesn’t answer the question – if he was a good man, even a prophet or claiming to be divine, preaching love, compassion and forgiveness, why did the authorities at that time put him to death – and that too, not any kind of death, but the harshest punishment possible under the Roman Empire: scourged, stripped naked and nailed to a cross in a public space as an example to everyone.
Crucifixion was reserved for those who rebelled against the Roman Empire or for slaves who defied their masters. Both were considered a serious threat to public order.
Jesus’ passion for the kingdom of God that would raise up the oppressed and the downtrodden inevitably brought him on a collision course with the Empire. His passion for distributive justice led to his Passion through punitive justice meted out by the local rulers. All the values he stood for were diametrically opposed to the values of Empire – violence, greed, selfishness, domination and exploitation. Moreover, he preached the kingdom of God at a time when Roman imperial theology regarded Caesar as a “son of God”.
He was passionate about the kingdom of God based on love, justice and peace. He empowered peasants and the dispossessed. Not only that, he led his new followers in a movement for radical change into the heart of local power, Jerusalem, in the run-up to a major religious festival.
He was sharply critical of the elite in Jerusalem who were collaborating with Roman imperial rulers in the domination system of the time. The local people were groaning under the weight of taxation and oppressive rule. Their local leaders even had to pay tribute to Rome. It was a national humiliation.
His presence in Jerusalem did not go unnoticed. And his passion for the kingdom of God led to His Passion – his suffering and death – as we know it.
(Ideas from Borg, Marcus “The Last Week”)