It appears the Easter season has snuck up on me yet again. Since my son was born, I’ve had good intentions to make holidays memorable, but Easter just hasn’t come together. The closest I’ve come this year to doing something special for Easter is giving Thomas some Easter egg hunt training. But I digress.
Now that it’s upon us, I’ve been thinking about Good Friday all morning. I tend to skip right over Good Friday and move on to Easter. I prove this point above, moving right into writing about celebrating Easter. I find myself wondering today, “What is so good about Good Friday?”*
I’m reminded on Good Friday that the Lord’s gifts don’t always come wrapped up as we hope. Eternal life is wrapped in Jesus’ atoning death, my death to self a thousand times after. Unsinkable faith is wrapped in darkness and mystery, nagging unanswered questions. As the Christian “joke” to never pray for patience implies, patience comes wrapped in unfulfilled and delayed longings.
“But you’re supposed to tear off and throw away the wrapping paper,” you might be thinking. Sure, the wrapping is temporary, but it serves a purpose. A beautiful package says, “Something incredible is inside.” It beckons us to stop, pay attention, and anticipate. Such as it is with Good Friday.
We’re invited to pause and consider the theological meaning and weight of Jesus’ death. We stop and remember that this was a real man—a sinless man—who lived and died who chose to go to the cross 2,000 years ago, yet we still talk about him today. This death echoes through the centuries and into eternity. This is a day that matters.
I hear the invitation to pay attention as well. The tendency I’ve observed is to celebrate Good Friday by focusing on Jesus’ horrific trial and death. The watch bloody scenes from The Passion of the Christ or read the Biblical accounts, picturing the agony Jesus felt. But without a similar look at the horrific mess inside of me, it’s just another story. Good Friday only becomes “good” when it’s juxtaposed with my sin. When I pay attention to the sin that lingers, the parts of me that still worship false gods, yet are forgiven and cleansed through Jesus’ outstretched arms, I can see just how exceedingly good this day is. “It is finished” is the Good News.
Lastly, we’re called to anticipate. We envision the incredible gift that is waiting in our laps. The pain and darkness of this day will give way to glorious light. Come Easter, the tomb will be empty and Jesus will be alive and whole, just as we will in Christ on the day he returns.
Good Friday is good when we stop, pay attention, and anticipate the goodness of what is yet to come.
*I’d like to note here that a Google search tells me that “good” is an antiquated term for “holy,” which is really why it’s called Good Friday. The more you know…