Today, however, these words we are so accustom to hearing seem to have disappeared, stolen away, absent from the picture before us. It’s tough to imagine, much less mutter, such words as these when we hear of Jesus being betrayed by his own disciple Judas, arrested like a bandit, tried before the high priest and governor of Judea, sentenced to death as a criminal, and publicly murdered before his family and friends. These words we’ve been taught and told seem nowhere to be found. Rather, we are faced with tough, coarse, unrelenting words for which there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Betrayal. Violence. Retaliation. Arrest. Denial. Accusations. Conviction. Scorn. Ridicule. Criminal. Abandonment. Suffering. Death. These words offer no comfort to the hurt and hopeless. They steal away any reason for praise and thanksgiving. Like a knife, each one repeatedly pierces those listening. With such a picture before us, how can we look upon today as being a Good Friday?
For the majority, this aspect of Holy Week—wherein the Holy becomes weak and dies for our sake—can be and often is skipped over just to land within the soft easiness of Easter morn. What need do we have for hearing the story of one more man dying? Each of us knows death; we can do without a worship service that appears to center upon it. Jesus died—got it, let’s get to the good (or better) stuff. Why can’t we just talk about the happy ending to the story? What use is Good Friday to us?
The thing is, Easter is not fully a proclamation of hope without having experienced the brutality, death, and despair of Good Friday. There can be no resurrection without death. Nowadays, we function with the presumption that Easter is coming. This, however, was not to be assumed by the women who went that early morning to anoint the body. They had no reason to believe the tomb would be wide open and empty or that an angel would greet them with news of Jesus’ resurrection. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary had come there to tend to a body—a dead body—with no expectation that he would be resurrected, or much less on his way to Galilee. Without the narrative of suffering, death, and burial we hear on Good Friday, Resurrection Day (Easter) is without context and is without an applicable meaning for our lives. Come to Good Friday worship tonight (7pm @ Edensburg Lutheran Church in Malmo). Witness the lengths and depths Christ goes to show God’s love for the whole world. Experience the pain God takes on for our sake. Prepare your hearts—“with fear and great joy”—for the proclamation of life anew on Easter morn.