Good Friday and Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday or Pascha, are celebrated throughout the Christian world. For followers of non-Christian faiths and the areligious, Easter is often embraced as a time for family, Easter egg hunts, and lots of candy. In essence, it is more or less a Springtime hybrid of Halloween and Thanksgiving. For faithful Christians, however, Easter is the single most important occasion of the year. Good Friday and Easter commemorate the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe sacrificed his physical body for the salvation of mankind. To the outsider, it is rather peculiar that Christians joyfully celebrate the horrific murder of their religion’s founder, but the very practice offers the world important insights into the natural state of the world and mankind.
If most people gleefully and vividly described the public torture and murder of a random person anywhere in the world, their morbid curiosity in the event would repel most other individuals. If they were caught telling the story to their children, they would be deemed unfit parents and monsters. Sharing the story of the Crucifixion with their children does not, however, make Christians monsters. Most children are likely to have nightmares upon hearing the true details of the Crucifixion, yet the death of Christ is shared and celebrated to remind Christians how much God is willing to sacrifice for mankind. The Resurrection is shared to remind Christians that God will always love His Children, no matter how much suffering they inflict upon the world. That said, the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ offers modern man, both Christians and non-Christians alike, another invaluable lesson.
During the time of Jesus Christ, crucifixions were not an uncommon practice. Roman General Quintilius Varus, for example, crucified around 2,000 Jewish rebels in 4 BC within a single day. Crucifixion was a practice inflicted on thousands upon thousands of people. After driving stakes through the legs and wrists of victims, often following a beating or some other form of torture, the crucified were left to hang in public view. Not only was crucifixion a death penalty and an example of State-sponsored torture, it was a political tool used to discourage rebellion and civil unrest. Indeed, Jesus Christ was charged with sedition, because he would not summit to the rule of the Roman Emperor. Jesus was as much a revolutionary figure in Judaism as he was a political revolutionary in the eyes of the Romans. His gruesome torture and murder were supposed to instill fear in those who embraced the sovereignty of God over that of Rome.
For the modern man, the savagery of the Romans is a reminder of mankind’s darker side and the natural state of a cruel world. It is a reminder of the evil mankind is willing, and able, to inflict upon others in the pursuit of power. Where the details of other modern and ancient stories of brutality are often shunned, because their gruesomeness offends modern sensibilities, the Crucifixion of Christ encourages Christians to embrace and empathize with the unfathomable anguish that Jesus experienced. It is a worthwhile reflection for Christians and non-Christians alike, because a world where crucifixion are commonplace is not a world most people would want reborn. The brutality and cruelty are very convenient and effective means to impose control over others, which makes them very tempting to those who seek power. By reflecting on the suffering of a crucifixion victim, the world is reminded of the need to guard against those who would use brutality to inflict their wills onto the world.
The Romans had expected the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ to break the religious and political insurrections of his followers. It may have worked, but his response ensured the very opposite. Resurrection or not, Christ’s loving embrace of those who betrayed him, abused him, and murdered him transformed the instrument of his suffering and death into a symbol of love, hope, and forgiveness. Long after Christianity consumed the Roman Empire and assimilated into cultures around the globe, cruel and brutal governments continued to reign supreme for the better part of two millennia. Even today, tyrannical governments violently inflict their wills on the world’s population, but it is nothing compared to the inhumane world Jesus Christ lived in. Whether one shares a faith in Christian or not, it is important to recognize that modern people have inherited a kinder and far more just world due, in part, to Christ’s legacy.
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