Exploring the emotional impact of Good Friday

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Christ cruxifixtion credit Raheel Shakeel pixabayThe Revd Clare Downing, Moderator-elect for the United Reformed Church General Assembly reflects on the mental health of some of the Good Friday characters.

Lately, whenever I listen to the news, the focus always seems to be about uncertainty of the future.

Recently The Guardian reported that of the 2000 people surveyed, a staggering 64% said their mental health was being affected by our political situation.

The characters of Holy Week were struggling too through a mixture of thoughts and emotions. This led me to think what might their mental health have been like?

Some seemed absolutely certain that their opinions were right. Others had a clear plan, but things developed in ways they weren’t expecting. At least one, by the Friday, was bitterly regretting his actions earlier in the week.

It’s easy to think that Jesus’ friends were confused, anxious and scared. The dreams of the past three years were becoming nightmares. The guilt of denial weighed heavily on Peter. Others had simply fled into the night. The teacher who they followed was on his way to a horrific execution, and they were fearful for their own lives.

One of the minor characters, Pilate’s wife, is on my mind. Most of us have woken up disturbed by a dream from time to time, but her level of anxiety was such that she sent a note to her husband. Not typical behaviour for the wife of an important man. Who was she concerned for? Was it Jesus who she saw as innocent? Perhaps it was Pilate himself? If he got things wrong, they might have both suffered in terms of power and position.

Pilate did take notice of his wife. He might have valued her judgement or intuition, but he didn’t have the guts to dismiss the case against Jesus. Fear of the crowd led him to decide upon a people’s choice. He symbolically washed his hands of responsibility.

Today and tomorrow as we walk the way with Jesus, perhaps we could spend time with the less obvious characters of the story. Imagining their thoughts and feelings. Living through the uncertainty, the doubt, the fear with those who don’t know what will happen in the next chapter.

Picture: An artist's impression of the cruxifixtion. Raheel Shakeel/Pixabay
Published 18 April 2019

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