As we celebrate Good Friday
Today is Good Friday. It is the day when Christians the world over commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, following a gruesome passion. The day would ordinarily have been one for great mourning and lamentation, or a day never to recall, because of the grave injustice that was done to the innocent Son of God on Mount Calvary. For believers however, the day is ironically observed as Good Friday, a day of celebration, because the terrible event of the day has become the source of life and salvation for generations of believers who look up to Jesus. It is Good Friday for followers of Jesus Christ, because they are able to look in faith beyond the dark and gloomy events of that Friday, to anticipate and eventually embrace the light and joy of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Good Friday is a day not only to recall the sacrificial love that Jesus showed by accepting to go through a humiliating death on the cross in atonement for sins, and for the salvation of men and women who would otherwise have been doomed for death and damnation, it is also a day to highlight and celebrate the new civilisation of love which Jesus established by means of his passion, death, and resurrection. Jesus’ way of truth, sacrificial love, mercy, forgiveness, compassion, and non-violence ran against the grain of the prevalent culture of falsehood, hatred, vengeance, violence, and death. His meek and humble disposition was too much of a challenge to the status quo of power and prestige, domination, and control. His life stood in stark contradiction to the prevailing order of arrogance and debauchery.
No wonder he had to be brutally eliminated by the powerful forces of the day. But it was all in fulfillment of the oracle of the ancient prophets including Isaiah, regarding the Suffering Servant of God, who would be despised and rejected, and bruised and battered for the sins of his people. Now, over 2,000 years since the event of Calvary, Jesus’ legacy of leadership by an exemplary life of truth, humility, service, and sacrificial love, has endured and has continued to challenge all categories of leaders in the world.
Today’s celebration of Good Friday is however for many of us in present day Nigeria a commemoration and a lamentation. As our Christian population reflects on the life and times of Jesus and the details of his grueling passion and crucifixion, many are approaching this day with a fair dose of trepidation, indignation, and skepticism. Trepidation because Nigeria has become a theatre of operation for the merchants of death that we call terrorists and killer bandits who have (literally) taken over the national landscape, killing, maiming, raping, and abducting thousands of innocent citizens, including school children, and bombing critical national infrastructure. Nigerians are today enmeshed in a security nightmare, since hardly a day passes by without some heart-rending reports of murderous activities of the criminal gangs that are now holding the country hostage. And all claims and assurances to the contrary notwithstanding, our government has proven to be either unable or unwilling to rescue the Nigerian people from the blood sucking marauders.
Whilst Nigeria is held hostage by this obvious security conundrum that is threatening the very existence of our country; and yes, while Nigeria flounders and Nigerians groan, most of those who hold positions of power and authority are today simply positioning themselves for the power-grabbing enterprise that our electioneering seasons entail. Meanwhile our social superstructure is daily inundated with soul-destroying disclosures of sleaze and corruption of monumental proportions, such that there are hardly any moral grounds for the present regime to lay any claim or make any pretentions to fighting corruption in any way.
We have everywhere today the vision and voices of a nation that has lost its soul, as those who claim to be leaders and many who are aspiring to lead the Nigerian people, are caught up in the very acts that destroy a people and diminish their nation. When those who occupy positions of leadership coast along merrily in the cesspool of kleptomania and debauchery, do we still wonder what lies in store for national survival? Where our governance profile is all about assuaging selfish and self-serving agendas, and how to grab and hold on tight to power, what prospects does Nigeria still have for the kind of liberation that the sacrificial death of Christ exemplifies? Does the succession of political overloads who are determined to hold on to power over the corpses of the Nigerian people still have any moral consciences? And why has the common good taken leave of them? Will these punitive leadership elite and those who aid and abet them, spare a thought for posterity? Can they in all truth project some life and some wellbeing for their progeny, founded as they are on political greed and economic graft, as well as the blood and tears of millions of innocent people?
Good Friday challenges us to take a cue from the sacrificial leadership offered by Jesus Christ – a leadership that is selfless, compassionate, just, loving and true. It is not only important but imperative that those who occupy positions of leadership in our society, and others who are today justling and manoeuvring for those positions, break out of the old mindset of primitive feudalism by which leadership is nothing but the conquest of a people and the privatisation of their commonwealth; and embrace the logic of service and sacrifice for the common good on account of which Jesus Christ is being celebrated during this season. For it is doubtful that a total system collapse or a complete state failure, which has become a real and urgent threat today, will leave them and their families unscathed. Yes, it is doubtful that the leadership elite alone and their own will survive the “coming anarchy,” should the system go under.
Jesus has given the supreme example of sacrificial leadership that makes for good governance and ultimately national security, peaceful coexistence and prosperity. He laid down his life to teach the world humility, fortitude, suffering, sacrifice, justice, and true love, as the way to authentic peace – the peace that endures. As Christians mark Good Friday today, may all Nigerians embrace and begin to live by these truths so the nation may be assured of some life beyond the Calvary that we are all confronted with today. On this note, The Guardian wishes our numerous readers peaceful and reflective Good Friday!