It’s our human tendency to want to know. The serpent, long ago, offered knowledge of good and evil. And ever since, we’ve been judging who’s in and who’s out, who gets it and who doesn’t, who believes the right things and who doesn’t.
It’s fascinating, then, that the way Jesus restores relationship is by paradox. He does not offer the right answer. Instead, he lives it. He embodies it. And, it’s called “scandal,” “foolishness,” and “folly.” He enters into the darkness, through the portal of suffering and death. His life ends on a different kind of tree – not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil – but one which would need to die in order to sprout again, only to grow in the hearts of men and women who could bear its death in their own bodies so to offer its best fruit.
A seminary professor once said, “I went to seminary to learn about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, only to later see that I was devouring its fruit the entire time.” We crave knowledge, control, certitude. It is the appetite of the false self, the “ego” as many psychologists have called it. But the paradox of Good Friday is that life comes through death, that wisdom comes through the embrace of the paradox, that fruitfulness in our lives emerges as we die, again and again, to our ego.
Good Friday is not a day where we merely remember, though remembering is vital. Rather, we participate, because it is in dying that we live. We can only love, serve, risk, and become the mission-shaped people we’re called to be as we succumb to this inevitability. It may take a thousand humiliations to make a significant dent in that hell-bent ego. But death will come, whether we surrender to it or not. And through the darkness, we will discover real illumination, the kind of freedom that manifests in a flourishing life.