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Good Friday: TGI Friday

By Bill D. Whittaker

 Mark 15:22-41

Campus life, the five-day work week and easy availability of leisure time coined the phrase TGIF. Thank God, It's Friday! I can still hear it spoken after the last class Friday afternoon.

For most the phrase isn't religious. Those who use it probably don't intend to include God in their weekend -- at least not more than an hour or two. TGI Friday is a hasty, tip-of-the-hat thank you to a secular faith in humanity that has persevered the week to party over the weekend.

This TGI Friday attitude isn't far from the spirit which prevailed around Christ's crucifixion.

- Pilate resented this intrusion on his scheduled holiday break. He quickly and gladly washed his hands of this troubling Galilean and hoped his vacillation in judgment wouldn't be wrongly reported to Rome.

- Herod happily received Jesus, hoping to add some excitement to his Jerusalem visit. There was no performance and Herod cast Jesus aside like a useless video disk.

- The Roman soldiers played a mocking game of satire with the King of kings.

- Religious leaders slapped Jesus around like a boxing bag and sighed with relief to hear Pilate's judgment. "At last this troublemaker will be gone! Thank God when this Friday is over things will get back to normal at the temple."

- The party spirit flowed to the root of the cross where they gambled for His robe.

- Pedestrians, like spectators at some savage sport, pitched in their share of jests and reviling commentary.

It was a mardi gras celebration before the Passover sabbath -- a TGI Friday kind of day.

Nearly two millenia have passed since that Friday above all Fridays. Is the world's attitude much different? The cross has become the central symbol of the Christian faith but for most this day holds little impact.

One hundred persons of different denominations were asked: Would it have made any difference to your life as you are now living it if Christ had not died on the cross? Forty-five said they didn't think so. Twenty-five said they thought so but didn't understand what difference. Twenty said it made all the difference both in what they believe and how they lived. Ten just didn't know. We still have a TGI Friday attitude toward the cross.

We really prefer a cool detachment toward the cross. Keep it on the steeple. Put a bronze one on the altar. Hang one in the baptistry. At least let it get no closer than a nice piece of jewelry. To really be Christian it can't be that way. John Stott writes of the cross: "... we are involved. Our sins put Him there. So, far from offering us flattery, the cross undermines our self-righteousness."1

That's why we're uncomfortable with the cross of Christ. It is God's judgment on the seriousness of sin. We don't like to think of ourselves as sinners. Other explanations are less offensive: we are influenced by environment or by the failure of parental guidance; we are emotionally maladjusted, uninformed, undevelopd. So get me to a therapist instead of a Savior.

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