Good Friday, with the words on the Cross -- “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani”
by Elizabeth Menon

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Good Friday, with the words on the Cross -- “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani”

This is the story of the agony in Gethsemane on Good Friday and the ecstasy that followed with the resurrection of Jesus, the only Son of God. One could argue the logic behind calling it ‘Good Friday’ when it’s the day when Jesus was crucified; His death brought forgiveness for our sins and therefore it is good news for us! "You have authority over me only because it was given to you by God", He told Pilate, the Roman governor, during the trial. And finally, Pilate told the crowd, "I am not responsible for the death of this man! This is your doing!" -- "Let the responsibility for his death fall on us and our children", the crowd shouted. And ever since, people around the globe have been wondering why the Jews have been persecuted; perhaps it may have something to do with that thoughtless statement in front of the Son of Man and Pilate on that day!

Jesus celebrated the Passover Festival with his disciples and during the supper, The Last Supper, He said, " I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me - one who is eating with me. The son of Man will go just as it is written about him.” (Mark14: 21) “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani”, Jesus cried out at the ninth hour, which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” As he gave up his spirit, the whole country was covered in darkness that lasted for three hours, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, earth shook and the rocks split. (Matt 27: 46,51) -- "He really was the Son of God", said the army officer who watched all the happenings at the crucifixion!

Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome were there at the tomb very early on Sunday morning. “Don’t be alarmed”, a young man in white robe told the three women who took spices to the tomb, “You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised"! (Mark16: 6) It has also been said that He appeared to Mary Magdalene first, and when she told his disciples that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they didn't believe her!

Jesus is clearly depicted as one who is in control of his destiny and nothing in the world can take away that spiritual aura and confidence. It is affirmed very conclusively that the handing over was according to the scriptures, an act of God, and therefore, should the person who carries out the will of God be ridiculed, slighted or demonized? Jesus told Judas, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” As soon as Judas went, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him.” (John13: 27, 31) Jesus added, “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way.”

When Judas found that his Master was condemned, he was overcome with remorse and tried to return the money. As the priests refused to accept it, Judas threw the thirty pieces of silver and hanged himself. One could argue here that Judas truly believed that his Master was too powerful to be captured by the high priests and therefore he was heart broken at what happened. It was God’s will that the Scriptures be fulfilled and Judas was only a vehicle to carry out the will of God.

Good Friday is the day when Christians remember the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for their sins. Most of the believers fast till after the 9th hour, the Biblical day starts at 6 AM, which is 3 PM. Some Christians take part in a procession, 'The way of the Cross', carrying a cross and finally entering the church.

It's tradition to eat Hot Cross Buns on this day -- a sweet and spicy bun made with white flour and currants, and a sign of the cross on top of the bun. The pastry cross on the bun symbolizes and reminds the Christians of the cross Jesus was crucified.

There are different types of food traditionally eaten in different parts of the world -- Rice Kanji with a simple accompaniment made with green gram is eaten on this day in every Christian family in Kerala!

Christianity accepts Jesus as, the only Son of God and it is important to remember that other religions accept Jesus in other versions. Muslims regard Jesus as a prophet and messenger of Allah, many Jews find him a teacher, Hindus respect him as someone who reached the highest level of consciousness and the Buddhists regard him as a figure of compassion. “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations.” (Luke24: 45-47) One hopes that we learn to have tolerance and understanding of other religions enabling us to live harmoniously without having to resort to violence to settle our different views and opinions.

© E Menon



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