Here are some thoughts I’m sharing today. What do you think?
Everybody takes special days differently. We have different traditions for Birthdays. Christmas. Remembrance Day. Easter. Good Friday.
Good Friday, for me, is about contemplation, moving through the day in silence, imagining what the disciples were thinking and feeling that Friday as they saw their Dreams crushed, Hope destroyed, and their Hearts and Minds filled with questions and confusion.
Knowing Sunday is coming makes a difference for you and me. But that Friday it must’ve seemed like time stopped, or went into slow motion.
Despite everything Jesus had told them about what would happen – by the end of Friday only John and the 3 Marys stood by Jesus to the end.
It’s a lot more fun to come home and tell my wife that we got a cheque for $1000 dollars in the mail today than to tell her we got a bill for $1000 dollars in the mail today. I’d rather be talking about and celebrating the Resurrection with you today.
But it’s Friday. And there is no Resurrection Day without Good Friday. That’s a hard truth because mostly we’re wired to skip the bad parts, ignore the hard stuff.
We want the pay cheque without the job.
The healing without the surgery.
The great marriage without the hard conversations.
The weight loss without the exercise and diet.
We’ve become a magic pill oriented culture.
We want to skip Good Friday and get to the Resurrection party.
But there is no Resurrection Day without the Good Friday.
Paul once wrote to the Philippians: (Philippians 3:10, 11) “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
“the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings…”
So real and fresh that to the first church that it must have been scary.
Pretty counter-cultural for us.
Not a great slogan for building a church, “Come suffer with us!”
But it’s still the life we’ve been called to live. To hold in balance the sacrifice of Friday and the joy of Sunday morning.
I wonder if they were remembering Jesus’ words that day: “Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” – Luke chapter 9
We talk about all having our “cross to bear”.
Your cross is not having a husband who watches too much hockey.
Your cross isn’t having family who give you a hard time about following Jesus.
Your cross isn’t having a bad hair day or having a cranky boss.
Our cross is sharing in His sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Jesus didn’t deny himself so that we don’t have to.
He denied himself to show us how it’s done.
To know the power of His resurrection means living out our own Good Fridays…everyday.
Dying to my agenda.
Dying to my rights.
Dying to taking the path of least resistance.
Dying to giving up on this relationship ‘cause it’s just too hard.
Dying to ignoring the truth about myself.
Dying to staying silent when I know someone needs to speak up.
Dying to spending more money on myself when a neighbour is going hungry.
Dying to mask wearing and faking my way through life.
Immediately after the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem where Jesus comes as humble servant as opposed to the conquering king the Jews were looking for, he is approached by some visitors to Jerusalem.
John 12:20-28 “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. “Sir,” they said, “we would like to see Jesus.” Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
“Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!”
Good Friday is one reminder that death precedes life. But it’s not about having a depressive day to feel like dying…
It’s about a way to live our lives. Living so that people will experience Jesus living in us and be glad to God that we’re in their lives.
Isaiah 58 – God knows the tendency of His followers to choose religion over relationship. We tend to call special services, longer sing alongs or even giving up food for a few days for a “spiritual solution” to the problems people face. God has a different idea.
“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD ?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. 9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
One of the things that the Cross means is beating ourselves up is useless. Jesus paid it all. But we still need to die to ourselves. I need to die to me, to Mr. Ego.
The question for us is, “How will I live knowing He died in my place?”
As we pass thru the day today, however we each keep it, let’s look for ways of knowing Jesus in his suffering and becoming like him in his death, denying our own agendas, rights and plans, so we can really experience the depths of the power of his resurrection.
And don’t forget, it’s Friday, but Sunday is coming.