Prior to Good Friday, many Christians have been following some form of Lenten practice. Lent is a time in the Christian church calendar where 40 days are set aside to ponder the finiteness of the human reality.
As people around the world attend Ash Wednesday services as the inauguration of the season of Lent, they will hear this phrase as ashes are marked in the shape of a cross upon their forehead; “From dust you came and to dust you shall return.”
These ashes are to remind us of our insufficiency, our inability, our brokenness, and ultimately death.
You may ask yourself why the church would practice such a strange thing! Life is already hard enough, why do we need to think about death and all these depressing and sad realities?
Can’t we just live our lives?
If there is one thing I have learned working with modern day orphans at Stand in the Gap, it is that if we don’t set aside specific time to admit our needs and insufficiency to ourselves and others, eventually we will be so burdened that we cannot carry on.
It is the same way with Lent. If the church does not set aside time to think about death, weakness, infirmities, insecurities, and our complete reliance upon our Creator for life, we are destined to convince ourselves that we don’t need help, that we have it all together, that we are in control. I am the master of my destiny. I make the decisions. I am a resilient American.
Without time to think of our rightful place before God and our fellow human beings, we will inevitably follow in the footsteps of our brother Adam, and destroy ourselves.
The greatest darkness which plagues the hearts of us all is a sort of amnesia concerning our finiteness, it is a forgetfulness of our rightful place in the world and of our posture before our Creator, it is a willful act of standing upon our own work rather than on the work God has done on our behalf. Lent points us away from our propensity for self-reliance back to reliance upon God. It casts us on the broad shoulders of Jesus, reminding us to admit that every aspect of our life relies upon God’s provision and care.
Lent drains us of our self-righteousness and leaves us all feeling quite empty.
The empty and desperate reality that is cultivated in us though the Lenten season can only be filled with the overflowing abundance of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf. The transcendent God outside of time and space, unapproachable, incomprehensible, and infallible, entered into the mess that you and I created. He became exactly like you and me. This is the distinguishing truth of Christianity.
All other religions force their followers to work their way back to god. In Christianity, God comes to you and me, sinners dead in our trespasses and sins. He doesn’t just come in a vision or a dream but in flesh and bone. This is Good. The only true eternal good news.
Good Friday, as tragic as it is, is cosmically good.
The goodness of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection on our behalf will never be fully uncovered. After Jesus comes again and we have spent millennia with God, we will still be writing songs, reciting poetry, creating art, and using all forms of human expression to describe the greatness of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. And yet, the surface will have just begun to be scratched!
Oh, the depths and riches of God’s salvation for us in Christ by the power of his Holy Spirit!
The daily life of a Christian is a participation in Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday. Every day of the Christian life is the call to participate in Christ’s death, to die to self, and participate in his resurrection to be raised to newness of life.
So Christian, come to this Good Friday to die with Christ. Come to Resurrection Sunday to live in Christ. Celebrate like you have never celebrated, sing like you have never sung, dance, eat, and drink with elated hearts that our God is alive, and so shall we all be the same.