Resurrection, Cosequences, and Hope: An Easter Message for Perilous Times as TheseRev. Michael Calvert, Ph.D., April 12, 2020
Part of the Easter 2020 series.
Today is another special day in the life of our Lord’s Church. All over our globe, believers are celebrating what has been know historically as ‘Good Friday.’ This is the day that Christians remember our Lord’s atoning death upon the cross on that momentous Friday afternoon two-thousand years ago.
Of course, this year’s commemoration of our Savior’s death is much different than most of us have ever experienced. We are unable to meet together for this holy occasion. In virtually every part of our world, believers are huddled in their homes in the same way that we are now. A pandemic, sweeping across nearly every continent, has necessitated our separation from one another, and has brought the subject of suffering very close to all of us. So, in some very small way, like our Savior who went before us, we too suffer on this day, in varying degrees of severity.
What likely seems odd to those outside the saving Gospel of Christ is the rather strange designation for this day, ‘Good Friday.’ While there is plenty of debate regarding the origin and meaning of this label, it is certainly the case that we Christians see no discontinuity between the word ‘Good’ and the commemoration of our Savior’s crucifixion on that ‘Friday.’ Suffering, even in the incalculably extreme form which our Lord endured, does not automatically rule out the experience of something good and, dare we even say, beautiful!
In his letter to the Galatian Church, it was the Apostle Paul who put these concepts together very beautifully:
“ But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
“ Boast” about “ the cross”?
That seems so incongruous, since we normally “ boast” in pleasant things such as our children or grandchildren, our new job, the raise we just received, the degree we finally earned, the big fish we snagged, and other ‘normal’ things such as these. But to glory in, to brag about, to find delight in “ the cross” of our innocent Savior?
His suffering was ‘good’!
Here is the perplexing core of the Gospel. We believe it was a good thing, even the grandest thing of all, that our dear Lord and Savior willingly went to the cross for us! It was good that He suffered! It was good that He died! And by maintaining such claims, we are not betraying some nonsensical and absurd love for that which is morbid or evil! But we are simply following the storyline of the most magnificent of all stories. His suffering and death brought us life!
Hear the words of Paul once again:
For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:17-19).
It was, then, a most blessed and ‘good’ thing that Jesus suffered and died for us! The cross, the cruelest instrument of torture and death ever devised, is the symbol of life for us who know the One who died there so horribly! For by the wounds He suffered on the cross, we are healed! Because there, on the cross, He endured God’s wrath for us, we find our joy and our whole reason for living!
It is a ‘Good Friday’ indeed! Praise His Holy Name!!
On Sunday, Resurrection Day, our sermon will come from 1Thessalonians 4:13-18. This is, for sure, a beloved passage for most of us. I believe its message is so timely, not only in view of Easter, but for what is says to us now, in our current situation. As you reflect upon it, please pray for us as we record the message tomorrow morning. The sermon video and worship guide will be posted on our website early on Sunday for your use at home.
As I go, I do so with a heart that is overflowing with love for each of you. I miss you all so much, and long to be with you, not only in the worship of our Great King and High Priest, but also in simple fellowship together. The words of 1 Thessalonians 2:17 express my heart:
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face.
Yet, we trust our Father for now. Our absence from each other is serving His greater purposes. He is purifying us, increasing our faith in Him, sharpening our gifts for service, causing our love for one another to abound, and tuning our hearts to better “ sing of Thy grace”!
And, perhaps most wonderfully of all, He is showing us that in our weakness He is strong!
While we don’t know how long this quarantine will last, we do know Who’s in charge of it! We do know our Savior’s tomb is empty! And we do know that, “ neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”