Why is it Called GOOD Friday?

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Growing up, I was always confused about why the Christian church called this day Good Friday– the day that Jesus Christ was put to death. I knew the story: the blood, the nails, death on a cross, the method used for criminals. I had learned about crucifixion in gory detail, and how the one crucified would struggle to breathe in such a position, how Christ would have needed to lift his body weight just to get a breath– his body weight pressing against the spikes nailed through his feet. I knew about the hours of darkness, the quaking earth and breaking rocks. About the curtain of the temple being torn in half, top to bottom.

My family would go to a Good Friday service, the front of the sanctuary bearing a cross adorned with a drape of purple fabric. Sometimes we would hold a railroad spike in our hands. We would always take communion: a small tab of bread to represent Christ’s broken body, a small sip of grape juice to represent his blood.

And I would wonder: why is this good?

I remember as a passionate, deep-thinking, sensitive child thinking, I wish I could have stopped this nightmare.

My God had been ridiculed, beaten, and killed. Why was this good?

……………………………………

Friday is good because of Sunday.

Because Friday was not God losing the battle– it was part of the battle plan all along. It was a well-conceived, strategic move before the checkmate.

Because, as I said above, the curtain of the temple was torn in two— this represents our direct access to God, where before we needed a priestly intercessor.

No matter what it looked like on Friday– the end of the world, I’m sure many of Christ’s followers thought, and certainly the end of hope— Sunday was just around the corner. Sunday, the resurrection, the culmination, the checkmate, the victory. It was all part of a master plan, one that we– nearly 2000 years later– can see in full, even if our brothers and sisters at the time could not. We can see the rescue waiting just around the corner. We can say, This is good.

……………………………………

Years ago, I attended a conference where I heard a sermon by Louie Giglio that I will never forget. It profoundly moved me and helped to shape my worldview. The bottom line of it is this: when the bottom drops out of life, we can still have hope — because of the cross.

If you will do just one this for me this entire year, would you please watch 1 minute and 38 seconds of this sermon? I’d love to have you watch the entire thing, but please at least watch from 24:45 to 26:23.

From the foot of the cross, the cross appeared to be the worst thing– from the perspective of history, we Christians see it as the best.

And we can trust that God is at work even in the times that are hardest. This is why I have hope.

……………………………………

This is so core to my identity that I put it into my book in the form of a parable.

Silas tells West that he believes that God is in control, even over the bad things, and she asks him why.

“Writers know that the climax comes before the resolution.” He was quiet for a second, then said, “Not just in fiction, either, West, but in real life too. How many times has the worst thing turned out to be necessary? Or even the best? Rescue wears masks, you know. It’s why people say it’s darkest before the dawn. Sometimes things take a long time to make sense. Could be years and years—or only a weekend. Or they might never make sense. But that doesn’t mean you stop trusting that the world is being rescued.”

Or only a weekend.

Good Friday, everyone. I’m looking forward to Sunday.

Resurrection Joy

I love Easter.  This is– hands down– my favorite holiday.  This weekend, I have taken some time to reflect on the cross of Christ, the darkness of the Saturday in between, and the power and rejoicing of the resurrection Sunday.

As someone who often finds it hard to ground myself in the present time– one who is always anxiously anticipating that which lies ahead for me– I stand in awe of my savior, who knew for all eternity that the cross would be the climax of his story.  How could he bear it?  Death must have been such a relief.

Perhaps it was that he not only knew what was ahead in the cross– but even further ahead, in the resurrection.  I am unspeakably proud of my rescuer.

Blessings on your Easter, friends.  May you find deep joy in this mighty rescue, peace in knowing that God understands our deepest sufferings, and power in the realization that the spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same spirit that desires to live and work in us.

I am so proud to say that I belong to Jesus.

the agony of anticipation

rollercoaster upI’m one of those people who can’t tackle giant rollercoasters because of the long, slow, clicking rise to the top.  Not the way down!  I could probably handle the drop, but I cannot deal with that painful rise, that horrible anticipation.

Tonight I’m thinking about Gethsemane, about the weight of anticipation on Christ’s shoulders as he looks forward and sees the cat o’ nine tails, the cross, the nails, and so much blood.  To know fully what is only hours away … anguish.

But he knew he was destined for the cross long before the garden that night … his whole life … and even before his earthly birth … for all of eternity.

That, my friends, is a long time to ride the rollercoaster up.

I am so proud of my savior.

 

Holy Week

I love Easter.  I mean, I really love it.  I love Easter the way most people love Christmas.

Palm Sunday.  Gethsemane.  The cross.  Blood, blood, blood, and the sin of the world on His shoulders.

And then Easter morning comes, and HE LIVES, and EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT NOW.  Such a mighty victory– one that turned the ugliest thing (the cross) into this incredibly BEAUTIFUL picture of salvation.

Here is something I have wondered.  You know how sick you feel over the weekend when you know you have a terrible Monday ahead of you– maybe it’s a presentation, or you have to have a hard conversation with a co-worker, or you have to face your poor sales figures once again?  The anticipation is terrible, gut-wrenching, so ugly.

My question is this: how could Jesus know about the cross from all eternity and survive such a weight of knowledge?  I imagine it was almost a relief when Judas finally stepped into the garden and kissed His cheek.

I am so proud of my God.