Friday is the day of ridicule.
The taunts and insults flow effortlessly, piling up in rapid succession, one after another. These men take great joy in the expert turn of a phrase, slicing ever-so-carefully through the layers of the human heart. These barbs worm their way into us and we carry them with us always. “Stupid.” “Idiot.” “Moron.” “Worthless.” We can still see their faces, the expression of pure delight our revilement is bringing them. We know this expression because we have worn it ourselves. We have seen it in the eyes of those who would mock us and we have seen it in ourselves more than we’d like to admit. Two thousand years later, it might be easy for us to miss the slanderous tone of the phrase “King of the Jews” which was nailed above his head. Friday is a grim reminder of who we are at our worst: racial slurs, homophobic slander, gossip, hate-mongering, and the curses we so readily cast on our neighbors for (gasp) cutting us off in traffic.
But Friday is more than this. Friday is also a day of gruesome violence. These venomous insults are matched by bruising blows as hardened fists come crashing down all around us. He is thrashed, flogged, pierced. Once again, we see the expression of delight in their faces, as their bloodlust is sated by our wounds. It is a moment of willful victimization, all the offenses of history’s aggrieved and oppressed finding expression in his body. We see every abuse at the hands of those more powerful, every violation of innocence, every breach of trust. As spittle runs down his face, we see all the violence committed against us and all the violence we have committed against others. We are reminded that the world is a place of grisly horror and cruelty. We are reminded that we are both victim and oppressor.
As Friday draws to a close, there is no resolution. There is no turn toward hope, no “Yes, but…”. There is only the grim reality of our brokenness, expressed in the broken body, pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities.
Friday is the day of pain and agony.
This we remember today.