Sara Miles: “Crucifixion is always an act of terror, meant to carry a message to the entire population that the rulers of the world are all-powerful, and can crush anyone they choose. In Jesus’ time, the cross meant not just punishment for criminals and troublemakers, but shame for their families, who were marked forever by the scandal. Being crucified was to be made into a public example: your pain and humiliation were complete; your body became so disfigured you no longer looked like a person; you were turned into a broken nothing. The mere threat of death on the empire’s cross led people to betray each other; it kept them in their places, separated and afraid to offer solidarity.
And it still does, evoking our deepest fears of being cast out, mocked, hurt or violently erased, stigmatized by association with the wrong people. Today’s forms of crucifixion leave me afraid to care for the imprisoned, afraid to challenge the violent, too busy or guilty or helpless to even stand next to the families of the dead and weep.
And so the only good word we have on Good Friday is Jesus, who speaks to us from that terrible place. Jesus comes in frail mortal flesh like our own, to all those who, persecuted by the state, refuse to abandon their humanity; to all those who, entrapped into carrying out the empire’s dirty work, despair; to all those who lament their murdered children and their devastated people. Jesus confronts the rulers of the world who wield deadly force, speaking the word of God’s liberating love: ‘You would have no power over me, unless it were given you from above.”’