Easter services are much better attended than Good Friday services. I suspect this is inherent in human nature. We prefer the solution to the hardship getting there. We prefer the happy ending to the suffering that led up to it.
It’s not surprising that we do. Who doesn’t prefer those good times? Who doesn’t want to have as an affirmation of faith the proclamation: He Is Risen!
But our reality is much different. We live through hard times. We have those moments when it seems all is lost. We suffer through times of waiting, wondering whether things can get better or not. Moments of great victory come at a cost.
Holy week illustrates this so effectively. Jesus has toiled through the hardship of His ministry, facing rejection and opposition. Then all comes to a climax, not in victory, but in arrest, trial and death. Almost everyone concludes that things are all over. He’s dead. What are we going to do.
Then there is the silence and waiting of the Saturday between. What will happen as the new week begins? Will they be coming after us? What do we have to do.
And then there is Easter Sunday morning.
We say “He is risen!” with enthusiasm and joy, but many of those who first heard it said it with doubt, fear, and concern. What were they to believe now?
But it becomes more and more certain. They know He has risen from the dead. Triumph!
But what happens now? Is it all an easy run to the end?
No! It is time to be witnesses, to face the trials that come after.
Whenever we pretend that the Christian life is going to be easy and without difficulty, we set someone up for a failure of faith.
So what good did it all do?
There is something more important that Good Friday has to say to us. Yes, it tells us that God knows our suffering. Jesus has been through what we go through. I like to emphasize that when we explain why Jesus had to die the death that He did, we include the simple fact that it was the kind of death that human power provided for someone like Him at the time He appeared. Something different would not be experiencing what we experience.
It also tells us that Jesus is the Lord of Life, who has conquered death. He is not only sympathetic, but He has the power to do something about it.
But it also tells us that Jesus suffered with us for a purpose, and He takes us with us. I was strongly impressed with this as I read Ephesians 2 recently.
Here are some points:
- Jesus came to us when we weren’t ready for Him (2:1-3). We can know He means it, because it wasn’t our good looks or attractive personalities that brought Him here.
- It was because of love and mercy (2:4-5; see point #1).
- He makes us alive with Him (2:5). We have an eternal destiny.
- In Christ, we have a glorious purpose (2:6).
- It’s a gift. This is important because what we can earn, we can fall short of (2:8-9).
- We are his creation, so forget all the ancestry sites (2:9).
- We have work to do, but it is work that He planned, that He empowers, and that He carries out.
Ultimately, this lets us know that whatever we are, we are in the One who created us. We live for a purpose, a purpose that is created, assigned, and carried out through that one power. We do not live for futility, even in the greatest of darkness.
So if, on the Monday after Easter Sunday you don’t feel very much like an Easter person, remember that many who heard of the resurrection didn’t either, but God had a purpose for them.
In Him, everything (Ephesians 3:14-21).
Might I recommend slowly and meditatively reading the whole book of Ephesians, or at least chapters 2 & 3?
(The featured image is of my wedding wring, which has “Ephesians 3:14-21” inscribed inside of it. This passage was read at Jody’s and my wedding.)