When I was much younger, I was once asked to revel about whether Easter Sunday was more important than Good Friday or was it the other way around. I suppose that the argument went something like this; if Jesus had not died in our place on Good Friday, then we would still be subject to judgement for our sins, there would not have been a resurrection and so therefore Good Friday must be more mportant. On the other hand, if Jesus had not risen to new life on Easter Sunday, then death would have had the last word, not just for Jesus, but for us as well. I suppose that a more straightforward answer is that each is of equal but different significancance.
Over time I have come realize that Good Friday and Easter Sunday are like the flip sides of a coin, because they are part of the same thing - God’s redemption of the world through his son Jesus. Just as it is impossible to have just one side of a coin, we cannot have only Easter Sunday or Good Friday - they both go hand in hand and they are both equally important in God’s plan. I believe that there is a message here for us as Christians. We cannot experience the real joy of Easter Day without experiencing the agony of Good Friday.
Jesus’ death on Good Friday is probably the most difficult part of our faith to understand and it raises lots of questions which are difficult to answer. We know that sin separates us from God. it prevents us from experiencing his love and its fi result is death. Jesus came to rescue us from the power of sin and he died for the sins of the whole world. But why did he have to die, especially as he alone was without sin? Was he being punished for our sins? If he died as a ransom for our sins then to whom was the price paid? These questions about Jesus’ death are so difficult for us to answer and we must acknowledge that we might never fully understand them.
When we turn to Easter Sunday however, then we not only see but feel all that Jesus has done for us by dying on Good Friday. Our human experience tells us that people do not come back from the dead but we also know that Jesus has already done this and has appeared to his disciples. They didn’t recognize him at first because they couldn’t understand how he could be alive again after they had seen him die.
John tells us (20:20) “The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” We too can also experience that joy, knowing that after our own death, we will be resurrected and live with him in his new kingdom.
The more we revel on the terrible suffering and death that Jesus endured because of our sinfulness, then the more we will know the joy of that fi Easter morning. Just as Good Friday and Easter Sunday are like the two sides of a coin and you cannot have one without the other, so is our life. On the one side we have our sinfulness and on the other we have the promise of eternal life, which St John teaches us begins here and now. St Paul acknowledges this internal battle which we all recognize in our lives. Like him we rejoice in the fact that, through Jesus’ work on the cross, God’s law lives in our spiritual nature but we also recognize that we are formed from “crooked timbers” and the law of sin rules in our bodies. in the letter to the Romans (7:24-25) Paul cries out, “Who can rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
May we truly become an “Easter People” with the glory of the resurrection living in our hearts this Easter, and forever.