Good Friday: Oxymoron, Paradox, or Both?
During this Easter week, our Wellspring Charitable Garden staff and volunteers have been busy preparing the ground to receive the new seedlings that have been planted by loving hands in good soil. As I contemplate the week of Jesus’s death and resurrection, I can’t help thinking about today in particular.
Christians call the Friday before Easter when Jesus was crucified, “Good”. But how can any day that someone dies be considered a good day? The truth is that when we lose someone dearly loved, we experience intense loss and grief. Jesus wept when His good friend Lazarus died! Jesus wept and felt the full extent of human sorrow and grief, though knowing in just a few moments He would exercise the full extent of His Deity and raise his dear friend from the dead.
This is such an extraordinary example of how to comfort those who mourn. When Jesus saw the mourners weeping, He didn’t tell them to stop crying because He was about to do a miraculous thing. Jesus didn’t get uncomfortable with the tears of these women and immediately say something like, “Don’t feel bad, your brother won’t be dead for long.” He was able to be with them in their pain. He saw the tears of Lazarus’ loved ones and He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled. He wept.
Hebrew culture gave people permission to mourn and show dramatic expressions of loss. They would weep and wail, at times tear their clothes, hire professionals mourners to help express deep sorrow, and were even excused from some obligations like weddings and celebrations for an entire year to work through the loss of a loved one. Our culture gives a brief bereavement leave of a few days from work and then it expects people to “move on”, which is often interpreted to mean, “I should be over this by now.” “No one wants to see me cry or hear me talk about this anymore.” It is counter-intuitive, but in the case of grief, externalizing the pain (by talking, crying, writing, painting, singing dirges (sad songs), encourages healing whereas internalizing (telling oneself to get over it, forget it, move on, suppressing thoughts and memories of the loved one, avoiding reminders of the person, immediately engaging in a new relationship to replace the lost one) actually prolongs the grief and even injures the heart further.
“Jesus said to her (Mary, the sister of Lazarus), I am the resurrection and the life, He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” --- John 11:25-26
Do you and I believe this?
The word, Oxymoron is defined as a figure of speech in which two contradictory terms are combined in order to create a rhetorical effect by paradoxical means. Good Friday. Oxymoron? Paradox? Or both? You decide. In any case, Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed. Happy Easter!