As I write this, today is “Good Friday” and of all the confusing names given in our language, this must be one of the most baffling. Scholars are divided on why it is called Good Friday – some say that it was originally called “God’s Friday” and evolved into “good.” Others say it came as a reference to the day being holy, and, thus, good. Most of us, however, appropriately call it Good Friday because this day in history “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) This holy love, indeed, is beyond measure.
Earlier, on the night Jesus was betrayed, He shared a Passover meal with his disciples. In church tradition we refer to that day as Maundy Thursday, from the Latin “mandatum,” because after the meal Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment (the word “mandate” has the same Latin origin.) He told his disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35). On Maundy Thursday He gave the commandment, and on Good Friday He carried that love out to the fullest extent. On Good Friday both the most loving and the most atrocious act in history occurred. The all-loving, sinless and perfect Son of God was beaten, tortured, and killed for those who believe in Him (John 3:16). I’ve heard since I was a child that salvation is a free gift, but it’s not. Just because you don’t pay for it, that doesn’t mean it’s free – it literally cost Christ everything.
The Saturday after the crucifixion often gets neglected by church-goers because it’s the day between the start and, what is now known as, the end of the story of Messiah’s work on the cross. So, believers tend to focus more on what happens Sunday. But this in-between day has been given the name Holy Saturday, or, sometimes, Black Saturday, and the latter, I think, is most helpful. It’s important to acknowledge Saturday’s grief and darkness for those who had lost hope. The family members and friends following Jesus, who believed He was the promised Messiah, must have been plunged into numbing despair as they reflected on His gruesome, humiliating death and rushed burial, and how all their hopes in Jesus being the fulfillment of centuries of Old Testament prophecies were buried along with Him. It’s important for us today, also, to acknowledge this day of mourning because the world is full of people still walking in despair – unaware that they can be reconciled to their Creator and be “given the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) They are perishing without promise of eternal life. On this day, we can especially remember to pray for those people and reach out to them with the love and truth of Christ.
Sunday, of course, is Easter – derived from the proto-Germanic word austrōn meaning “dawn.” It was at dawn that the empty tomb was discovered, but this name also signifies the dawning of a new day after the long, hellish darkness of night. The Son has risen – everything is different now. While the crucifixion of Christ on Friday cancelled out the debt of our sin, the resurrection on Sunday gives us hope that there is now something glorious beyond death, which is the greatest fear of every man and woman who has ever lived. Just as Christ walked out of the tomb into the garden, He leads us out of sin and darkness into the blinding goodness of a loving relationship with Him for all eternity.
This weekend we rejoice with you as we try to wrap our minds around the beauty of this reality. May God bless you and your families as you rest in this truth!
Ever since the girls were little (littler? 🙂 ) we’ve spent the Saturday evening before Easter making something special – Empty Tomb cookies. With each step of the process, there is scripture to read and the girls still look forward to it each year. If you’re looking for a meaningful and engaging way to get your little ones into a Christ-centered frame of mind for Easter, how about trying this?
Servings 12 Yield 1 – 2 dozen
- 1 cup whole pecans, in a plastic baggie
- 1 teaspoon vinegar
- 3 egg whites
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 cup sugar
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees–you MUST do it now. Also, gather a cooking mallet, kitchen mixer, masking tape and Bible.
- Read John 19:1-3 ~ Jesus was beaten for our sins; beat the nuts with a cooking mallet; set aside.
- Read John 19:28-30 – Jesus drank something like vinegar (gall), sniff the fragrance, dip finger in and taste, too; place the vinegar in a mixing bowl.
- Read John 10:10-11 – Egg whites symbolize Jesus’ holy, innocent life; add whites to the bowl with the vinegar.
- Read Luke 23:27 – the bitter tears of the women; taste a few grains, remember your own sins; add the salt to the bowl.
- Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16 – Sweet salvation! Taste and see; add to the bowl.
- Crank up the mixer and let it go while you read from Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3; let the mixer go for about 12-15 MINUTES; this needs to be VERY stiff!
- Read Matthew 27:57-60 – Fold the nuts into the egg-sugar mixture; this symbolizes the rocks in the garden.
- Using a scoop or knife & spoon, drop by spoon into mounds (to resemble a rocky tomb); put into the oven and turn it OFF!
- Read Matthew 27:65-66 – The tomb is sealed; use two pieces of tape (5-6 inches long) to “seal” the door edges (symbolically).
- Read John 16:20 & 22 – Consider these passages, then go to bed!
- NEXT MORNING: Read Matthew 28:1-9 – Jesus is risen! Behold–the empty tomb! Unseal the oven door, take out the cookies, break or bite one in half — it should be hollow inside—empty—just like the Tomb!
- He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Bob, Andrea, Abigail, Emily & Iris