This Tissot watercolor, Son of the Vineyard (featured a few days ago on the Biola site) questions the "good" in Good Friday. The grey death tint of the body thrown outside the wall onto a heap of stones matches the somber sky. The perpetrators hustle away, climbing like thieves back over the wall. It is a snapshot of apparent defeat for all that is good.
The naked vulnerability of the sprawled murdered form is, in that moment, accomplishing what millennia of religion and power and rules and laws and rituals could not. A substitute broken by evil that not only pays behind all the wrong ever done, but pays it forward in actual transformation. The Jesus-figure's body blends with the stones, hinting of the unseen reality: this rejected body will be the cornerstone of an all-things-new dimension. The drained blood will blossom in the sterile vineyard behind, bringing life and joy. And not just for a few deserving folk. For all of us, all of us running away and climbing over walls.
But today, we consider the shocking hour when God entered into death itself.
And even before we see the grapes bursting with wine on the fruitful vines, even before we see life breaking out of the stones, we hold onto the Goodness of Good Friday by faith. The goodness of that love, that comes to us as the crushed body and bleeding side.
For in this hour when the dying night lingersUnwilling to surrender its waking darkness
Over your face and fevered brow, my torn fingers
Will stray bringing such comfort
As may claim your doubting heart.
(Abioseh Nicol, African Easter: Good Friday)