As Easter draws near, I’ve noticed a trend and one that I’ve fallen comfortably into myself. On Good Friday, it is not uncommon to hear some brief reflection on the Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross followed by these words, “but Sunday is coming.” Of course, the sentiment strikes at the heart of the culmination of this Lenten season, the anchor of the Christian faith – not just the death of Christ, but his resurrection. That is where our hope resides. As Paul indicated, “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:13-14).
To be sure, the resurrection cannot be undermined. I confess that for much of my Christian life, I treated Easter Sunday as kind of a resurrection birthday only to downplay it’s significance the remaining of the year. The cross of Christ is nothing without the resurrection. At the cross, Jesus final sacrifice of atonement, where he bore the penalty for our sin, is not complete unless he rose from the dead. In his resurrection, is where we find life in him. The resurrection is where we can anchor our hope.
We have the advantage of hindsight. Imagine what his disciples felt at that time. This person they followed and believed to be the Messiah, the promised Savior, who would come and rescue the God’s elect from the oppression of Gentile rule, was now seemingly defeated by it in the cruelest manner. But they would come to realize that in God’s paradox, he would use an instrument of death to bring life and nailed at his resurrection.
And so living on the other side of this revelation in Christ, we want to celebrate in the victory that secures eternal hope for those found in Christ. To put in more simply, we want to skip to the good part. Continue reading
As Christians around the world celebrate Good Friday today, we celebrate the transaction on the cross where Jesus atoned for the sins of lost people. While we have the immense benefit of recognizing what this day meant, if we were to transport ourselves back in time, there was nothing to celebrate on that day at all.
In his book Surprised by Hope, N.T. Wright says it well;
And it shows, of course, that the crucifixion of Jesus was the end of all their hopes. Nobody dreamed of saying, ‘Oh that’s all right – he’ll be back again in a few days. Nor did anybody say, ‘Well, at least he’s now in heaven with God.” They were not looking for that sort of kingdom. After all, Jesus himself had taught them to pray that God’s kingdom would come ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’ What they said – and again this was the ring of first century truth – was ‘We had hoped that he was the one who would redeem Israel (Luke 24:21), with the implication, ‘but they crucified him, so he can’t have been.’ The cross, we note, already had a symbolic meaning throughout the Roman world, long before it had a new one for the Christians. It meant: we Romans run this place, and if you get in our way, we’ll obliterate you – and do it pretty nastily too. Crucifixion meant that the kingdom hadn’t come, not that it had. Crucifixion of a would-be Messiah meant that he wasn’t the Messiah, not that he was. When Jesus was crucified, every single disciple knew what it meant: we backed the wrong horse. The game is over. Whatever their expectations, and however Jesus had been trying to redefine those expectations, as far as they were concerned hope had crumbled into ashes, They knew they were lucky to escape with their lives. (39-40)
Imagine the grief and hopelessness of the situation. Is it any wonder that they were huddled inside, when the news came? To be continued…