Have you ever been watching a game and been so invested in one team that you almost can’t watch the game? Have you ever sat there watching your team pull ahead and thought that maybe this time, this time things would be different, that this time victory would finally be theirs and by extension yours.
Have you ever sat there and watched as the victory that seemed so sure a moment ago began to slip away? Have you ever watched as your team went from leading to tied to trailing and all you can think is “this is not how this is supposed to go” and that sick feeling in your stomach that this is going to be bad starts to build and build until all you can think about is how much you don’t want to watch this, but yet you just can’t turn away?
Have you ever held out hope, even a fools hope that your team would turn it around that they would do the miraculous. Have you ever counted point differentials while you begged the clock to slow down because just maybe your team could snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Have you ever sat there when your team lost and felt utterly hopeless? Have you ever looked at the zeros on the clock and the deficit on the scoreboard and felt like you have been punched in the gut because no matter what else happens you were wrong to hope, wrong to dream, wrong to look for victory. Have you ever felt the pain of loosing when you thought for sure that this time you were going to win?
If so then take that feeling and multiply it by 1000 and stand next to John at the foot of the cross. Stand there and watch as the one that you were sure would save the world is arrested. Stand there and watch as the one who you were sure would lead the people of Israel to freedom is nailed to a cross. Stand there with John and hope for something beyond possible, hope for the miracle that maybe just maybe He would listen to the mockers and save himself like he saved others. Stand there and listen to his ragged breath as you hold out hope that somehow he will survive this and lead His people to victory and freedom. Stand there and watch the blood collect in pools around the cross and count the time that He has left before the end. Take that feeling of loss, that feeling like nothing is ever going to be right again and multiply it by like a million as you stand there and watch Jesus, the one you called Messiah, the one who healed the sick, raised the dead, and entered the city to shouts of hosanna dies right before your eyes. Stand there and hold out hope that maybe he isn’t really dead until you see his side pierced and the blood and water pour from the wound. Stand there and try to figure out how you could have gotten all of this so very, very wrong.
When we look at this day through the lens of the resurrection we can call it good and we can rejoice for the savior has come and chosen to die for us. We can meet here on Good Friday and smile because we know what this cross means; we know that Sunday is coming. But we must not move to quickly past the cross. We must not look past the pain in order to see the victory. We must not ignore the violence in order to see the empty tomb.
Let us linger for a while on the pain, on the feelings of failure, on that deep pain that comes from losing, from choosing wrong, that pain that comes from being sure that God is going to come through for you and then discovering that He doesn’t.
Good Friday reminds us that we live in a world of pain. There is hope, because we know that Sunday is coming, but there is pain, and loss, and regret, and tears. That is where we live, that is what this world is.
We don’t want to move to quickly past this day because it is this day, this horrible, horrible day that allows us to say with confidence that this world is not our home. It is this day that allows us to say that even though it looks like we are defeated we know that God has won. It is this day that we can call good because on this day the God of the universe sent his son to die on a cross to pay a debt that we could never pay. On this day Jesus Christ took on himself the penalty for our sins and we can rejoice and call this day good.
So come, look, remember, and open up your heart as we worship together.