Each Gospel writer brings his own perspective to the story of Jesus’s passion and death. John’s particular focus is the majesty with which Jesus conducts himself throughout, from the time of his arrest, through his two trials, to his hours hanging on the cross. His final cry is therefore, “It is accomplished !” Jesus has completed the mission for which he was sent by his Father, his mission to save mankind.
Suffering and death is the punishment for sin and wrongdoing, true. But more than this, it is part of God’s plan for the salvation of all. How vital then, for us to link our own sufferings with those of Jesus.
The one who suffers becomes the source of blessings and graces for the rest of us.
The one who suffers opens the way to a new land where we too may follow.
The one who suffers is often not the wicked, but precisely the opposite, the good person.
As the letter to the Hebrews puts it: although he was a son, Jesus learned to obey through suffering, and having been made perfect, he became for all who obey him the source of salvation.
And the Prophet Isaiah: if he offers his life in atonement, my servant shall have a long life, and through him what the Lord wishes, will be done.
As the Bible sees it, it is the righteous person who is the key figure in history – not the kings and conquerors, the discoverers and inventors in our history books. It is the righteous ones – the saints, the sufis, the prophets, the buddhas — whose impact is out of all proportion to their numbers. They offer their lives to save the masses, and their suffering and death has a transforming impact on us all.
Good Friday tells us that suffering is not just a curse, an infliction, a meaningless waste. In the person of Jesus and in the lives of his saints, it can become a vocation and mission to save the people, to save mankind.
As the prophet Isaiah predicted: On him was the punishment which brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed.
On Good Friday we celebrate the transformation of suffering.
On Good Friday, we prepare ourselves through suffering for that invasion of the Spirit which we call the Resurrection.
On Good Friday we realize through our fragile and broken lives, that the outpouring of the Spirit is given to all persons, everywhere. Jesus on the cross points beyond.