Good Friday: In the Place of Christ

Based on the painting by Paul Gauguin | by John Trefethen

The Yellow Christ | by John Trefethen

The torturous form of capital punishment, crucifixion, was popularized by the Romans. It was reserved for the worst and lowest forms of life—slaves and malefactors. It was such a brutal and malicious way to die that Roman citizens were exempt from it.

Tis the season where many Christians celebrate Jesus Christ’s reign over death. What must this time have been like for those closest to Christ? his dearest friends? his family? Torture during the time of Christ was on display for the viewing public, it was made available for all to see, friends, family and enemies alike. The humiliation was a theatrical event, where families would picnic while in observance of the killings.

For some, the crucifixion was a festival, for others it was both a tragedy and means for celebration. For the later group, the sad realization that their decisions ultimately lead to the death of a loved one where transformed into the realization that their faults had been forgiven.

Those of this knowledge become possessed with the desire to spread the profound news that a tragedy had been transformed into a complete phenomenon. So possessed where they, that their passion lead to their demise, but only after igniting a fire that would consume the landscape and spread throughout all nations.

The cross was made a symbol which bore the hope of eternity and was reserved for one man and not other. Peter, one of those who bore witness to the aforementioned events, suffered a similar demise. However, when crucified, he insisted on being hung up-side down as not to occupy the same honored position as that of Christ.

Today, in the Philippines, the cross bears quite a different breed of would-be follower. Here, flagellants whip their bare backs and adorn the place of Christ in hopes of alleviating a child’s sickness.

Is the cross reserved for the One? or should it be repurposed as a symbol of forgiveness through suffering?

~ John Trefethen

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