I love Good Friday. Not only is it a great opportunity to remember Jesus’ death on the cross, and the sheer extravagance of his grace and mercy to us. But Good Friday to me perfectly captures the tension between being part of the world and the suffering that can involve, and seeing God’s perfect plans revealed.
Every year I am struck by what Good Friday meant to the disciples. It’s easy to gloss over the pain of this day, because we know what comes next. But for the disciples they watched Jesus die an agonising death. They did not understand that this was a crucial part of God’s redeeming plan. They must have thought that it was all over. Their teacher and saviour has been taken from them, when they were only just beginning to understand who he was. They went from performing incredible miracles to hiding in locked rooms, fearing for their lives. They were grieving and confused, scared and alone. It looked like the darkness of the world had won, that evil, corruption and betrayal had conquered love.
And I think I love this day because often we can find ourselves where the disciples are. In our own lives we can find ourselves in dark valleys where it seems like God’s plans have failed. We can feel seemingly alone with our pain and confusion, crying tears of fear and desperation. There are days when the night is dark and God’s goodness can be hard to see through the blackness that obscures our vision. And we only have to turn on the news to see the fruit of evil and hate in every corner of the world. Sometimes it can seem like the world is full of the cries of the suffering and afraid.
But the story does not end with Good Friday. I heard a great sermon at my church recently which quoted a story told by Tony Campolo. He was one of seven preachers preaching back to back on Good Friday. He thought he’d done a great job with his sermon and wasn’t expecting anyone else to top it. But then the next pastor cam up and had the congregation in uproar with just one line, “It’s Friday, but Sundays coming.” He said:
“It was Friday. The cynics were looking at the world and saying, ‘As things have been so they shall be. You can’t change anything in this world; you can’t change anything.’ But those cynics didn’t know it was only Friday. Sunday’s coming!”
It was Friday! And on Friday those forces that oppress the poor and make the poor suffer were in control. But that was Friday! Sunday’s coming!
It was Friday, and on Friday Pilate thought he had washed his hands of a lot of trouble. The Pharisees were strutting around, laughing and poking each other in the ribs. They thought they were back in charge of things, but they didn’t know it was only Friday! Sunday’s coming”…
At the end of his message he just tipped his head back and yelled, “IT’S FRIDAY!” And all five hundred people in the church yelled back as one, “BUT SUNDAY’S COMING!”
And in that one phrase we have the good news of the gospel. We are living in the in-between, the time between Jesus’ resurrection and his coming again in glory. The Fridays of our lives may be difficult and dark. They may bring us to our knees and steal our hope and joy. But we know that Sunday is coming.
Good Friday reminds us that no matter how hopeless a situation may appear, we can’t always see what is right around the corner. Even if we feel our lives are a series of black Fridays, we mustn’t loose sight of the fact that Sunday will come when all will be made right. We may have to wait more than three days for it, but Sunday is coming, of that we can be sure.