He’s gone. Was any of it real? Was He who He said He was? Was it all a grand trick – and I fell for it?
I was part of planning the Good Friday experience at my church this year, so as you can imagine, I have been thinking about it a lot. I have been actively placing myself in the place of those who knew Jesus, who loved Him, who followed Him, who gave up their lives and joined His mission. And who watched Him be arrested, tortured, and killed. They saw Him die. I cannot imagine the deep sorrow they experienced.
We have the privilege of simply turning the page and seeing the hope and JOY of Easter. They did not have that. They must have asked these questions: He’s gone. Was any of it real? Was He who He said He was? Was it all a hoax – and I fell for it?
In planning for Good Friday, my best friend mentioned the different and specific betrayals of Jesus.
Imagine Peter, who spent the night denying Jesus just as He said he would, finally hearing the condemning sound of the rooster’s crow.
Picture Judas, who traded His Savior and Friend for a bag of coins, ultimately leading him to end his life.
Consider Pilate, who instead of stepping up and being the leader He was capable of being, followed the crowd’s wishes like a coward – washing his hands of Jesus’ life as if it was of no consequence.
Doesn’t it make you mad? The people who were supposed to care for Him, the people who should have been on His side, they traded their loyalties for money, approval, comfort.
It makes me angry – until I realize I am just as guilty. How often have I set Him aside for the comforts of this life? How many times have I denied Him so that I could fit in? How many times have I thrown away an opportunity to change culture because it felt too hard?
I was overcome last Sunday with the powerful dichotomy of Palm Sunday and Good Friday. People were probably pushing and bulldozing over one another to get a glimpse of Jesus, riding into town on a donkey. They created a parade for Him. And then not even a week later, were willing to trade Him in for the release of a hardened criminal. We are so fickle, so quick to trade Christ for comfort. So susceptible to following the crowd, even to the point of sacrificing the life of the one we claim to follow.
Maybe this is what we are meant to consider on Good Friday – the Cross was the greatest heartbreak of all time because Jesus was not just forsaken by His Father, but by us as well. I am not often a proponent of self-deprecating, “shame on me” messages; I don’t ever really believe in sitting in our sin and staying there. However, on Good Friday we do need to contemplate the brokenness of our world and the effect it has had on all of humankind, throughout history.
We still feel the longing and heartache of the in between. We long for the resurrection, the reuniting with our King. We ask these same questions: Is any of it real? Is He who He says He is? Is it all a hoax – and I am falling for it?
We deeply hope and wait for the day when He will return to us. We live in the heartache of Good Friday and Saturday nothing. We wait with bated breath for the rest of the story.
Good Friday is our chapter one. It is the hard, gruesome set up for the greatest redemption story of all time. We do not like to dwell on it, but we will never fully understand the rest of the story without it.
We have to sit with the darkness, if even just for a moment, so that we can actually hold the entirety of Easter Sunday. So that we can begin to see the beauty of redemption and resurrection. No story is complete without chapter one. No story ends in it, either.
If you are in the Denver area and want to join us for our Good Friday experience, get more information here.