Crucifixion vital to Easter story

Published 1:19 pm Thursday, March 29, 2018

By the time this devotion is published, it will be Good Friday. Some people will be in churches, observing this day that marks the crucifixion of Jesus the Christ. Most people, though, and even most Christians, will be in other places, maybe making plans for the weekend, maybe looking ahead to Easter Sunday services.

It’s easy for anyone to want to look past the reality of death, especially the gory accounts that we have of Jesus’ crucifixion. In many churches today, or maybe last Sunday, people have or will hear sermons with a line something like, “It’s Friday … but Sunday’s coming!”

The thought is that we have hardship now, but something great is coming, something that will overwhelm the down times. As a Christian minister I certainly celebrate the glory of Easter, yet I can’t help but be concerned about overlooking the significance of Good Friday, and what we in the faith call “Holy Saturday.”

Sure, we don’t like to talk about death, or dwell on it. We don’t want to be a “Gloomy Gus,” someone who is down in the dumps all the time. But there is something lost when we go from Palm Sunday to Easter, from one glory day to another, without taking into consideration what happened in between.

The opposition from religious authorities, the betrayal of one friend, the denial – the utter abandonment – of another, the arrest, the handing over to the Romans, the crucifixion. These too are all part of this week. They have something important to teach us.

Everything belongs, Richard Rohr has written. Even the worst times of your life. The times when you feel abandoned by those closest to you, the times you have been betrayed –and the times you have betrayed others. The times when what was special to you has been put to death, either the loss of a loved one or a friendship or a dream. That’s what makes Good Friday and Holy Saturday important.

We don’t live in a perfect world. We don’t always get what we want. Death is all around us. Death may be all within us. Yes, Sunday is coming. God does not let death have the last word. The last word is always “resurrection.” But if you have not completely dwelt in the depths of the pain of Good Friday, or the abandonment of hope on Holy Saturday, you will never feel the tremendous earth-shattering and life-changing joy that comes with Easter. Don’t rush this day. Don’t gloss over your pain. It has something to teach you. It is getting you ready for resurrection.

REV. DR. TOM ROBINSON is pastor of Farmville Presbyterian Church. His email address is robin216@embarqmail.com.