APRIL 10 — Today is Good Friday.
It’s a day when Christians may look extra gloomy; it’s also an evening where you’d be wise to avoid roads next to huge churches (although for this year that won’t be a problem at all).
Some Christians may even let it slip that it’s the “holiest day” in the Christian calendar, and they’d be right.
Basically, there’s something “special” about this particular Friday. In some churches, the occasion may even resemble a funeral.
People go to church in black, are solemn throughout and leave quietly with hardly a word (though, again, that probably won’t be the case this year; most likely Christians will just have to do all these sombre things online).
What’s happening? Why the gloominess?
Better yet, what “happened” such that today most churches have a cross in front of their sanctuaries?
Thanks to Mel Gibson’s 2004 movie, everybody knows Jesus was beaten up and crucified — but what does that mean theologically? What’s the big deal about the “Passion of the Christ”? What was Jesus’ bleeding and dying supposed to have accomplished in the so-called “spiritual” realm (if this is even the right way to put it)?
What follows is one perspective which Christian theologians have taught over the centuries. The baseline assumption is that our world is sick.
Our industries, wars, cities, lifestyles, etc. have turned Society into an ICU patient.
Not exactly an unfamiliar image nowadays.
We’ve over-eaten and under-exercised, we’ve filled our minds and bodies with filth and junk, we’re like a patient with diarrhoea not caring and continuing to gorge himself at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
So we’re, like, terminally ill with a self-nurtured disease which lacks a cure. Our very blood is poisoned. How to survive? Only if somebody with 200 per cent Wolverine-ish self-regenerative DNA gives us all his blood and dies in the process.
But not before defeating the virus.
The Old Testament Book of Isaiah puts it poignantly:
Surely he took up our pain, and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)
Good Friday, under this view, is about God giving us His clean blood, He gives us His life in exchange for our death.
One may say that God replaced our infected blood with His vaccine-filled one.
God suffered and died for us so we could be made whole again, cleansed of the virus.
This is, in short, the medical slash healing slash “vaccine” perspective of the atonement.
The actualisation of this perspective can be seen in the sacrifices which our front-liners have been performing for the nation since mid-March. Because of them, the Covid-19 recovery rate keeps surging upwards. Because of them, the supply line is maintained. Because of them, our neighbourhoods and apartments are not being piled up high with trash.
Because of them, Malaysia lives on.
Whatever else Christians think about today, you can be assured they will not forget the dedication of everyone in Malaysia risking their lives for the sake of the nation.
They recognise the hand of God in these people and they will be praying for the safety and well-being of these fierce servants of the nation throughout.
Have a blessed Good Friday, Malaysia. Stay safe.
* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.