Pastors always complain about how Good Friday gets short shrift in our culture. You start seeing Easter decorations and candy for sale in February, and invitations to parties and egg hunts are sent out weeks before the big day. But there’s no sign that the celebration is going to happen in the wake of an unimaginable tragedy.
Resurrection only comes after death, and it’s hard to deal with that.
Even when the promise of new life is known from the start, it’s still terrifying to face the facts of suffering and loss. And of course, while death in the best circumstances is painful and difficult to cope with, on Good Friday Christians don’t confront a peaceful or natural death. Jesus didn’t simply die, he was targeted. His death was an unjust, brutal horror.
So it’s no surprise that people want Easter without Good Friday. Good Friday is terrifying, it’s an abomination, it hurts just to think about it.
We’d all rather find the empty tomb without having to go to the funeral.
But this year at Easter, things are going to be different. The gravity of the cross will linger. Golgotha will have a different kind of hold on us, because of a death-dealing illness whose spread has still not peaked. In quarantine, amid the news of rising fatalities and a collapsing economy, it’s much harder to rush past Good Friday.
In a time like this, we do well remember that God is not only there for and with us, at the empty tomb on Sunday. God is there, for and with us, Friday too, on the cross.
God suffers. God grieves. God’s heartbreaks. God dies.
In this, we have an everlasting promise, that God knows and cares for all who suffer, who grieve, who are broken-hearted, and who dies.
It’s the only good thing about Good Friday, that God is with us, closer than our own breath, not just for the exuberant, but for the unspeakable.
It’s no time for celebration, but it is a time for communion.
Or think of this way – remember those women who visited Jesus’ tomb on Sunday, and discovered it was empty? Those women were the disciples who stayed with him at the cross when everyone else ran away to hide. They faced the terror and the viciousness. They wept with Jesus. They beat their breasts and cried out to heaven with him. They suffered, with Jesus, together.
And they didn’t know it at the time, but in sharing the pain, they were making themselves ready – to experience and, not long after, to proclaim the resurrection.
If you are suffering today,
If you are broken today,
If you are grieving today,
If you are fearful today,
There’s no need to jump ahead to bunnies and lilies and a sunny day when everything is going to work out just fine.
All you need to do today is look to Jesus.
The God who suffers,
The God who grieves,
The God who dies.
The God who is with us, always. No matter what
By Pastor Rob