The next few days are a mere holiday for most, with many enjoying a full four-day weekend out of it. They’re in a celebrative mood, but not necessarily for the right reason. At least not the reason the days exist as holidays.
Even among believers though, there is a familiarity with the whole thing that breeds contempt, as they say. We go through the motions because that’s what we do each year. Aside from attending one extra service on Friday, there’s nothing about this weekend that is very different from any other weekend. I’m fearful of this in my own heart. I’m concerned about how indifferent or even cavalier I can get with the whole thing.
Because it isn’t just another weekend. Not for those who love and follow Jesus.
It begins for us on Good Friday. We have led with the question, “God’s dead?” as a way of provoking our thoughts about what happened that day. First, GOD did not die that day. (R. C. Sproul has answered that question well in his short blog on that theological matter. Check it out here. But Jesus, the man, died. It was a horrible death. The gospel accounts spare us the gore, but it was indeed gory. The movie The Passion of the Christ came as close as anything to accurately describing what happened to Jesus in those hours. I have only seen it once in a theatre when it first came out. I own the DVD but have never watched it. I know what it depicts. And it bothers me, so I avoid it.
And that’s part of the problem with Good Friday. We have sterilized it. Polished it up for easy consumption. We have softened the horrible truth. And even with this year’s attempt to come closer...we won’t actually go very far. We will be careful. We won’t overdo the horror of it. We’ll be careful not to upset anyone.
But in an effort to shake up any indifference or familiarity with it all, we are asking you to come as you would to a funeral for a loved one. Come dressed appropriate to a funeral. Come expecting the form of a funeral. Come with grief in your heart, after all, Jesus said. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
As we open the Word of God on Good Friday, we will be looking at John 12:20-26 and the powerful words of Jesus, “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” In those words Jesus was telling them about his own impending death and what would come of it. As we work through the passage we will see what the death of Jesus reveals to us; namely, the God-longing we all have as humans, the crisis moment we all have as we hear the gospel, the unavoidable truth that Jesus must die…and us too, the crucial choice to follow him, and the astonishing outcome that we enjoy as a result of that decision.
Some may think or ask whether or not God’s dead. Well, we know he isn’t.
Our God’s Alive!
And that’s the thrust of Easter Sunday morning, of course. There will be some tension left in the air on Friday. We won’t feel the need to resolve the whole issue. Sunday is the resolution. The resurrection of Jesus Christ completes the matter.
From Luke 24:1-12 we will hear a call to believe the unbelievable: our God’s alive! To do that, each of us must cut through our emotions and pain because we all start here. It is in brokenness that we trust Christ with our lives. But it won’t happen unless we challenge the assumptions we’ve had about life and death and our destiny and even who calls the shots in our lives. If we show a willingness and an understanding of what God is doing in us, we will respond to the growing conviction in our hearts and turn our lives over to him in faith. And the reality is that when we do this, we should expect a mixed reaction to our new faith. Some will also believe, some will want to check it out for themselves and some will think we’ve lost it. What God thinks should be our only concern.
The passage traces the steps of a group of women who loved Jesus and had followed him. It was their brokenness, their loyalty, and their subsequent faith that will grip us as we work through the account of his resurrection. It welled up in their hearts, “Our God’s alive!”
And I’m hoping it will well up and spill out of our hearts too on Sunday morning!
A weekend like no other
Every Sunday is meant as a celebration of the resurrection. That’s why the early church abandoned the Sabbath (Saturday) and began meeting on Sundays. But there is still a sense in which this weekend is different. And God uses this annual remembrance of the crucifixion and celebration of the resurrection to lead many to find the forgiveness of sins and a relationship with their God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
So to our Harvest Bible Chapel Barrie family I say, let’s be sure to remember and celebrate in a way that does not treat all this with contempt or familiarity but with godly grief, with reverence, with awe, and with unbridled JOY! Come ready to soberly and solemnly reflect on Friday. Come ready to sing and SHOUT, Harvest, as we gather to worship our living GOD on Sunday morning.
As is true every week, you should come prepared. Listen to the worship songs we have lined up for both Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Read the two passages: John 12:20-26 and Luke 24:1-12. In fact, read the entire account in any of the gospels (Matthew 26-28; Mark 14-16; Luke 22-24; John 13-21), and pray for not only your response to these things, but that many would turn their lives over to Jesus Christ this weekend.
Continue to invite friends and family and even strangers to join you for one of these services. You can use this link to invite them.
See you Friday and Sunday!