Pastor’s Friday Comments (04.19.19)

Today is Good Friday, although, to those who do not understand the Christian faith, it is hard to comprehend how the day commemorated for the humiliating and excruciating death of your religion’s leader could be called in any sense “good.” To anyone with any worldly sense, defeat and death are experiences to be avoided or at least postponed as long as possible, not something to be embraced or emulated.

For the Christian, however, the death of Jesus on the cross outside Jerusalem is the eloquent expression of the love of God, the demonstration of the lengths to which the Creator is willing to go to express love for all creation and to forgive our offenses. Humiliation and suffering are the direct result of our willful acts of rebellion, self-centeredness, and evil and, since we are both unworthy and unable to bear those results ourselves, God chose to bear them for us through the death of the One who is God’s own full incarnation, Jesus the Christ.

In just two days we will celebrate the triumph over all the evil that we have committed, the defeat of death and darkness, of sin and hate, as we join with believers around the world in proclaiming that Christ is risen, he is risen indeed!

But let us not rush to that celebration without considering, at least for today, what we have done, collectively and individually, that has made Good Friday necessary — not necessary to appease an angry God, but necessary to bridge the gap between God’s holiness and our sinful condition. Jesus did not go to the cross for God’s sake but for ours, because we simply cannot believe that forgiveness comes without a price. If that is the way we must think, then Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.

We call this day “good” because it allows us to accept the love that God has always been willing to give. It recognizes the enormity of our transgressions and our inability to do anything about them. It refuses to accept our excuses for our behavior or to diminish our own responsibility for our actions. It simply acknowledges that God loves us so much that God underwent what we were incapable of undergoing.

Tonight we will read again, without great elaboration, the account of the Passion of Christ, from the Gospel of John. I hope you will be able to join us, not only so you can be impacted by the extent to which Christ suffered or the willingness of God to love us nonetheless, but so, come Sunday morning, you can truly celebrate Easter, knowing what a triumph the resurrection truly is. Around the world people will be proclaiming the Good News of Easter. Not everyone will have recognized what it cost God to provide that good news to us. Please be one of those who does.