So this Sunday will be my first Easter as a preacher. Granted, I’ve taught classes on Easter Sunday and other ministerial duties, but never have I poured so much thought into Easter Sunday before actually arriving to church that day. I was thinking about it today and realized how easy it is to move to Resurrection Sunday and forget about the violence of Friday. That sounds weird, but I’m asking that we don’t forget about Friday.
Here’s the deal though, I think many people see and interpret Good Friday only through the lens of the wrath of God. Certainly there is a place for that, but I’m not sure that is the main and central purpose of Friday. I’ve always seen Good Friday from that vantage point, so I’ve always struggled with the violence of Friday and wanted the joy of Easter. Who wouldn’t when the picture we have of Good Friday is of God’s wrath being fully displayed?
So, I lean into verses like I John 3:8 tomorrow and remember that Jesus came to destroy the work of the devil. Jesus died to destroy the power of sin and death. Jesus died not because of wrath, but because of love. I agree with N.T. Wright that contrary to the line we sing for the modern hymn “In Christ Alone”, the cross is not God’s wrath satisfied as much as it is his love satisfied. The cross is God’s full demonstration of his power and the means by which all other powers, even the power of sin and death are destroyed. The cross is God’s demonstration of love. When we see Jesus hanging on a cross on Good Friday, we should see the love of God on display.
Jesus says in John 14 that when we’ve seen Him, we’ve seen the Father. When we see Jesus dying for our sins while we are still enemies, we see the Father. When we see Jesus taking on sin and death in order to destroy it, we see the Father. When we see Jesus lay down his life for those he loves, we see the Father. When we see Jesus dying and destroying the work of the devil, we see God dying and displaying the full measure of his love. And that’s good news.
Does God have wrath? Absolutely. Is that the only way to see Good Friday? I think not. As we anticipate the joy of Sunday and the resurrection of Christ, I encourage you don’t fly through Friday without stopping and thinking of God’s love fully poured out for the redemption of this world he loves so dearly.