Mark 15:33-37 CSB
33 When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon.
34 And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
35 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “See, he’s calling for Elijah.”
36 Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a stick, offered him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.”
37 Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last.
In 1882, Friedrich Nietzsche wrote these now infamous words: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?” His argument has been misunderstood, misrepresented, chopped up and turned into bumper sticker slogans by so many people that it’s nearly meaningless now. I want to bring meaning back to this infamous line, “God is dead,” on this, Good Friday, the day our Lord was killed.
When Nietzsche penned those awful words, “God is dead and we killed him,” he was speaking of our age of enlightenment—our age of reason, of science, and of technology. Nietzsche supposed that in all our doing, we out did God. In all our working, we worked God out of our lives. In all our technology and our progress, we eliminated the need for God. If a man writing in 1882 recognized this, how much more should you and I, in our age of information?
If a man writing in 1882 recognized this, how much more should you and I, in our age of information?
Who needs God when I’ve got Google? We sing, “Take it to the Lord in prayer.” But why, when I can receive immediate answers from Wikipedia and WebMD? Nietzsche’s conclusion was that if God has become obsolete, then there is no supreme moral agent to set the rules, and therefore, good and evil are ultimately meaningless. The indie rock band Superdrag put it this way: “Nothing’s real, nothing matters.” This belief, rooted in Nietzsche’s work, came to be known as nihilism, from the Latin root nihilo, meaning ‘nothing.’
We sing, “Take it to the Lord in prayer.” But why, when I can receive immediate answers from Wikipedia and WebMD?
Good Friday is the day we acknowledge that God in the flesh—Jesus Christ—was killed, and that perhaps by our sin we played a role in the killing. Of course he didn’t stay dead. This we believe: He is risen!
Our world does not share this awesome belief. In fact, the truth of the gospel is foolishness to them (1 Corinthians 1:23). And in the information age, you might recognize as I do that the next generation has become alarmingly nihilistic in their thinking. “Nothing matters” is their theme. Talk to a teenage kid sometime, ask them what they believe. More and more, I’m hearing existential angst. I’m hearing cynicism and world-weariness. “What’s it matter?” I’m also seeing the adoption of a new sort of liturgy of internet memes. A kind of bible for the disenchanted.
I’m hearing cynicism and world-weariness. “What’s it matter?”
This line of thinking didn’t end well for Nietzsche. I love Webster’s summary of his life, taken from the New Office Dictionary, 1962 edition. Webster’s dictionary records these simple words: “He died insane.” Nietzsche lived out the remainder of his days in such doubt concerning the nature of reality that he refused to leave his sister’s guest bedroom; she cared for him as he was bedridden in his despair.
On Good Friday we confront the ghastly image of our Lord slain, atop Calvary’s hill.