You can’t fully understand Good Friday unless you move on to Easter Sunday, and you can’t understand Easter unless you observe what preceded it, Good Friday. They go together – Good Friday and Easter.
Lent, the season that leads up to Easter, has been difficult for me and indeed our whole family, following the unexpected death of our eldest daughter Beth on March 20th. This year, we have experienced the pain and loss of a loved one, and it has caused me to approach and meditate on this year’s Easter from the place that I am in at the moment – a place of pain and grief.
In the midst of it all, a verse of Scripture, Psalm 30:5 (NKJV), “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning,” reminds me of a message I once heard, “It’s Friday but Sunday is coming.”
So, this Easter, let’s look at grief and joy as seen then and experienced now.
Grief and pain are right there on Good Friday. Think of some examples.
JESUS – If you ever watched Mel Gibson’s magnificent film “The Passion of the Christ,” you will have observed something of the pain that Jesus experienced when He died for us on the cross. The lashes to His back, the crown of thorns on His head, carrying His cross to Golgotha, the agony of the crucifixion, it is hard for us to grasp what all this was like. Jesus suffered pain and grief (See Isaiah 53).
GOD THE FATHER – We know that God experiences emotions at times; emotions like love, hate, anger, pleasure, grief, etc. I wonder how He felt seeing His son in such agony on the cross. Any parent seeing their child suffer experiences pain and grief, especially if their child dies. Yet, God was there. As the word says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NKJV).
THE DISCIPLES – Can you imagine the pain and grief that the disciples experienced on Good Friday and then Saturday? As we know, Peter wept (See Matthew 26:75). I suspect all of them did. Imagine what it was like. They had been following Jesus for three years expecting Him to usher in His kingdom, and then it all fell apart unexpectedly. Saturday must have been the darkest day of their lives, full of grief and pain.
MARY – Can you imagine how Mary, the mother of Jesus, felt watching her boy, now a man, dying before her eyes, a dreadful death on a Roman cross (See John 19:25)? If you, as a parent, have lost a child, you have some idea how she must have felt. Mary would have all the responses of a grieving mother that day.
But grief and pain are not the end of the story. “It’s Friday but Sunday is coming,” and when it arrives, the whole scene changes, maybe slowly to start with, but joy does come on Easter Sunday morning. This is also seen in the final verse of the Gospel of Luke.
Jesus had risen from the dead and shown Himself to the women, the disciples, and as many as 500 other people, “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen”(Luke 24:50-53, NKJV).
What a turnaround. Their circumstances went from grief and pain to joy and praise. Indeed, “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NKJV).
MESSAGE FOR US TODAY
The season of Lent is a good time for us to remember the events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday and what it means for us today. It is a good time to realize that Jesus went through all that grief and pain in dying for us on the cross to pay the price for our sins and open up the way to reconciliation with God the Father. Let us never forget what He was doing for us and the gift of salvation that He gave us.
Finally, if you happen to be going through a season of grief and pain in your life right now, then be encouraged by what happened to the disciples, the women, and Mary. Their weeping endured for a night, but joy came in the morning.
May your grief and pain give way to joy, and may you do what the disciples did in worshipping and praising God. Remember what He did for you on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. He rose again! He will turn your mourning into dancing (Psalm 30:11), and as Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) declared, “Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.”
Have a blessed and joy-filled Easter!