Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday


Picking the Right Place

“Skull Hill” as it looks today

Visiting Israel is a sacred, life-changing experience. Like parenthood, nothing can quite prepare you for what it feels like to put your own feet on the exact same places where Jesus put his.

That is, if you can figure out which places those actually were.

What you discover upon alighting in Jerusalem is that there is significant disagreement about exactly WHERE certain biblical events happened. For example, there are two different places that local “experts” will swear to you are the actual spots where Jesus was born.  

Similarly, there are at least two spots that supposedly mark the exact place where Christ was crucified. One of those places has since been surrounded by an ornate cathedral, full of tour guides, candles, incense, icons, statues, and huge crowds of pilgrims. 

The other site is much plainer. Make no mistake, it is still highly developed and commercialized, complete with local guides and a gift shop. But it is located outdoors on top of a hill that bears a striking resemblance to a human skull. 

I prefer this spot over the other one.

My favorite part of this location, however, is NOT its shape or location. What I like best is its proximity to the Jerusalem city bus barn. Here, one can sit in prayer and contemplation, pondering the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice and your own unworthiness of this extravagant love, all while listening to the engines and air brakes of Jerusalem’s city busses. 

Call me weird, but somehow this bizarre juxtapositioning makes a kind of cosmic sense to me. 

Allow me to explain. As a lifelong, practicing Christian, I carry in my bones a deep reverence for everything that today – Good Friday – represents. I understand it as a defining moment of God’s whole incarnation enterprise. For me, Christ’s crucifixion is both the pinnacle expression of self-sacrificial love and the Divine Battering Ram that forever smashed the barrier between heaven and earth, between God and us, between life and death, and between one human and another.

Second only to Easter in significance, Good Friday and the crucifixion event is the inflection point on which human history forever pivoted.

But for me – and again, maybe ONLY for me – that place belongs smack dab in the MIDDLE of the mundane, quotidian movements of life… not set aside in some gilded display case. Somehow, I feel more connected when I reflect on the meaning of atonement, salvation, sacrifice, and eternal destiny smelling the scent of diesel fumes instead of incense.  

Ultimately, of course, the setting of these contemplations is immaterial. Go where you will to pause and reflect. Sip coffee in a crowded café, walk by a serene lake, pedal a bicycle, or sit on a plane.

But whatever you do, wherever you go, don’t miss the opportunity to spend time alone with your thoughts today… reflecting on the price that was paid to set you free.

Abundant blessings;

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