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It’s All Good!

It’s All Good!

When you recall the events of Easter, what is your first response? How do you feel when you remember the story of Jesus’ last days? If you experience feelings of discomfort when thinking about Easter, you are not alone. Kelly Cooper considers our desire to pass over the cross for the joy of resurrection, and reminds us about the ‘good’ that Good Friday has to offer.

Jesus was betrayed, tried and condemned to death; mocked, flogged and tortured; pierced with a crown of thorns; rejected even by those who knew him; nailed to a cross; cried out tears of anguish for help from his Father; and then died the most agonising death imaginable. While the events of Good Friday would make for some sensational media headlines in our current culture, as far as stories go, it’s not exactly feel-good.

For Christ followers, Good Friday naturally evokes a range of emotions. For some, it is the uncomfortable part of the Christian calendar, the disturbing and deeply sorrowful part of the Easter narrative. The part that is sometimes easier and more palatable to skip over. If your first instinct is to recoil, to quickly move on from the harshness that was Jesus’ reality on this Friday, you are in good company. Can you imagine the despair that the followers of Jesus must have felt? Jesus was dead—his life and ministry finished. At first glance it can be difficult to see what’s so good about the day we call Good Friday.

A plot twist

Well before his crucifixion and even before he stepped into ministry, the Bible tells us that Jesus was aware of his mission on earth (1 Peter 1:20). Jesus knew that he was sent to fulfil God’s plan to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and he knew that he was to make his way to Jerusalem where he would suffer and die for the sin of the world (Luke 9:51).

Jesus also knew something else. He knew that after his death and burial he would rise again and that on the third day as Mary Magdalene approached his tomb, she would find the stone removed. He knew that he would appear before her. He knew he would call her by name and send her to tell others of his resurrection. He knew that he would appear to the disciples and hundreds of others over the coming 40 days. He knew he would ascend into heaven and be seated at the right hand of the Father. He knew that his death and resurrection paved the way for you and me to experience forgiveness for our sin and an eternal future with him.

This part of the Easter story is much easier to stomach and is undeniably cause for celebration. When all hope was lost, God made the impossible possible by raising his son to life. The headlines for Easter Sunday would be even more sensational in today’s context, ‘Dead man raised to life!’ Jesus’ resurrection brings hope, redemption and the assurance of a new beginning for us all. It’s not hard to get excited about Easter Sunday. It would be easy to quickly forget that Christ’s resurrection didn’t occur without betrayal, denial, torture, pain and death, but the truth is none of us get to Easter Sunday without first going through Good Friday.

The cross is our connection

The Bible tells us that the only way we come to the Father is through his son Jesus: ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). The cross is more than just a symbol of our faith. The cross is our connection with our Heavenly Father through Jesus’ ultimate act of love and sacrifice. Jesus didn’t willingly go to the cross as just an act of obedience, he hung on that tree to create a pathway for you and me. The cross is where we meet Jesus. The cross changes everything.

Perhaps you find yourself in a hurry to get to the part of the story where Jesus is raised to life, eager to get to the resurrection. Maybe a gruesome death on a cross doesn’t fit into your picture of how you think things should be. I’m sure it didn’t fit anyone’s picture back then either. But the cross is the very place where we get to know our Heavenly Father. If we skip the cross, we skip truly knowing God.

As we journey with Jesus this Easter, let’s do so with a posture of patience and contemplation. Let’s not rush to get to the ‘good’ bits, but take some time to sit in the spaces in- between. Let’s intentionally linger in the shadows of the cross and envision what it would have been like to be a bystander at Jesus’ death. Let’s prepare ourselves to tend to his beaten and broken body. Let’s imagine we were there with Mary Magdalene when he walked towards her and called her by name. And let’s celebrate the very good news of the Easter gift Jesus gave us: a pathway to his Father through the cross, forgiveness for our sins, and the promise of eternal life with him. Time at the cross was the path for Jesus and it is also the path for us. As we reflect on the Easter story this year, from Good Friday until Easter Sunday, let’s declare, it’s all good!

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