photo by Matt Sclarandis
Good Friday can only be good with the gift of time, seeing it in retrospect. But two millennia ago, this Friday didn’t feel very Good.
This is important for us to understand, because when we pick through the religious veneer we find some beautiful old wood.
For many the Easter story can only be read one way — until.
Until they experience it in a different way.
What is it?
The death of your Saviour. The disappointment in God. The abrupt, rude awakening that happens when all your hopes and dreams get crucified.
Think about the disciples who followed Jesus, and all they gave up to do it. For at least 3 years they quit jobs and said good bye to family and eventually to their very lives.
To be fair, they gained a lot too. They ate well, they saw amazing things, and were part of something incredible that was happening in their desperate homeland.
But things began to unravel quickly in the previous days leading up to the crucifixion. They may have had hints through their internship with Jesus, but none of what they experienced was expected. All of it completely over their heads until this fateful weekend had passed. Once again Retrospect is perfect.
They had put all of their faith in this one basket.
All their dreams and hopes, nailed to the cross with their friend and Rabbi. They were terrified, and disillusioned. They banked it all on this Messiah who was now being executed as a common criminal.
I have experienced a death like this. Everything I hoped in, trusted in, and believed in nailed, crucified and dead. I made plans, I built a life, and then suddenly everything changed and I was left wondering who was in charge.
Jesus’ followers did what any self respecting person would do. They hid. The Rabbi is dead. What if they come after his followers next? So we find the disciples, his mother, and brothers along with their friends stuck between a rock and a hard place, having no idea the rock would soon be rolled away. They are stuck.
Stuck between Death and Resurrection. Stuck between Friday and Sunday.
This is a terrible spot. Especially when you are not prepared for any other plan. And we all find ourself on the other side of a death with no idea of what to do next. When we feel abandoned, hurt, and disillusioned we begin to go through the stages of grief. Whether it is the death of a loved one, a dream, a job, a relationship or of our faith. We grieve.
These days would have felt like weeks. We have the benefit of knowing the end of their story, but they did not.
I get it.
As I read this Easter story, I realize I have been locked in that house with those very familiar characters. And I felt welcomed. It is easy for us to go from Good Friday to Easter Sunday and not spend time in the darkness of Holy Saturday. But this is an important time. Much of our life is spent stuck between death and resurrection.
We die many times in this life in various ways — but how many of those deaths have lead to resurrection?
Here is a secret that they will soon learn. Here is a truth that needs to be discovered over and over again.
There can be no resurrection with out a death.
Stuck between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is a terrible place, but it is a necessary path that leads to freedom. The only way to resurrection is through the dying. The only way to experience the new is by letting go of the old.
This is where transformation happens.
Not everyone gets this, or believes in it—nor desires it.
Farmers understand it. Those who have overcome incredible adversity, or tragedy get it. It seems their is a price for transformation. That is why it has so much value, because it always comes with a cost. Pain and suffering desire to be a way of waking us up—stopping us in our tracks.
Not only can Suffering create a desire for change but an opportunity for it.
Jesus represents this in so many ways. ‘Change your mind to a new way of thinking’ He would preach over and over again. His crucifixion was supposed to end a movement but instead it defined it. Jesus changed our way of thinking about everything, pain, suffering, joy, hope, death and the promise that the final word hasn’t been spoken yet.
But we have trouble letting go of opinions, ideas, people and experiences. We struggle with believing that anything better can lie ahead. Thats what happens when your stuck between Friday and Sunday. How can there be any life after this? We have forgotten a principle that even the earth knows:
Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. (John 12:24)
So if you have ever been stuck between death and resurrection, your in good company. If you have ever felt that God has died, disappointed you, or abandoned you—you are not alone.
But if we can observe and learn this one truth from others, it could be this:
Death prepares us for the rebirth of something new.
Does it do this for everyone? No, but it desire to—I believe that.
Unfortunately many experience their grief and stay their. Holding on trying to resuscitate what was.
This day offers us a choice.
As we remember the love that Jesus demonstrates through this act, we also remember the pain of not knowing what it could mean. We can either live in fear of losing all we have known, or be willing to let it all go and be transformed by it. Learning instead to trust that something hasn’t been buried, but planted.
I can get bitter because of it, or be change by it.
Both are uncomfortable, but only one has resurrection as an ending.
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