Good Friday—the church is dimmer, and the day, from morning until night, is given weight by contemplation of the sacrifice of God, that Jesus was forsaken by the Father. It’s something I know I do not understand. Yes, I have known an amount of human tears and pain, but I have never remotely known this—God has never forsaken me. But God did forsake God.
Then Easter comes, and I am ever in need of the resurrection; it means my freedom and future resurrection in Christ. I need to celebrate His power in it. I hear joy in Easter and its songs in the major key—to remember the power that made me clean. His resurrection is what we proclaim to the world; it’s not coincidental but rather the crowning historical reality of our belief system. Christ is God and justifies us by His own merits.
Yet, when Easter comes, and just a few days prior I was contemplating the crucifixion in quietness, I cannot seem to “transition” from Good Friday. I’ve managed to create something of a false dichotomy—one that has internally left my Friday without enough joy and my Sunday without enough of the cross. But even Christ went to the crucifixion for the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2). And even in eternity we will not transition away from the crucifixion, but will praise the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:12).
Historically and eternally, the two run together. And in terms of what they have brought into my life, they are interconnected too.
From the Ground of Good Friday
Being reborn through Christ, we die to our sinful desires. Good Friday is in view. My motivation to bare my soul before Him in honesty with all of my sorrowful shortcomings is possible because God was crucified for me in merficul love—perfect God. If He died for me, how can I not die to myself more?
“...if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”
And because we have been raised with Him, we receive a glorious salvation. I have His victory and hope already sealed in my heart. I have forgiveness and life through the purity and power of the resurrection—and these depended upon Him entirely, making the grace I have received sure. I can obey my Lord with joy. If He was raised, securing my deliverance, why should I not live as freed from the power of sin?
“Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him...So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
Rom. 6:8, 11
Good Friday reminds me that Christ loves me incomprehensibly. Easter reminds me that Christ is the living God and my living future. Good Friday draws my own confessions of sin before this kind of Savior who would be born to die for me. Easter’s bright resurrection truth bleaches my sins by grace through faith in Him, as with resurrection light, so the stains are not mine anymore. Both are in view.
We Don't Wonder
The “transition” felt abrupt because Easter can only ever rise from the ground of Good Friday; and Good Friday can only be thought of with joy because of Easter. Both days are, together, essential for understanding the time in which the earthly life of Christ during His first coming culminated. We don’t wonder what happened to Him; we don’t wait for His appearances as the disciples did, or wait to understand what He accomplished or how He claims us as His own. We know. The Lamb suffered our sins and death; Christ the Lord arose. We are mercifully loved. We are freely justified.
I have inordinate reason to sincerely die to my sins. I have abundant cause to joyfully, freely obey in my Christ-given life. And I do these together. My freedom fuels my confession; and in my confession, I remember the freedom that is mine by grace. Both are foundational to me—dying and rejoicing, receiving and obeying.
This week, I’ll be going into Good Friday and Easter just like they are two phrases of the same extraordinary sentence.
“He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”