THE WORD: Empty cross worth celebrating

Published 9:47 am Thursday, March 29, 2018

If my guess is right, you should be reading this right on or around Good Friday.

The date of Good Friday changes from year to year with the calendar, but it is always the Friday before Easter Sunday (resurrection Sunday). It is ironic that we commemorate the brutality and crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ with a day named “Good Friday.”

For the early disciples and followers, it was anything but a good Friday.

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Perhaps we would feel the same way as those earlier followers did if we were without the knowledge of the Easter Resurrection. We know what we know now, that the crucifixion was not the end, but the beginning (so to speak) of the salvation story. Without the crucifixion we could not have the resurrection. But for those who stood by during Christ’s crucifixion who did not have the benefit of knowing what we do now, it had to look like the end to them. Their hopes and their faith in this man called Jesus were probably challenged at the least; crushed at the most.

Sadness, depression, hopelessness and emptiness probably came for those folks when they saw him taken down from the cross and laid to rest. In another few days these feelings would be erased by feelings of hope and joy.

In contrast to the sadness and pain those followers felt on the Friday of the crucifixion, the followers of Christ experienced the glorious resurrection that is celebrated with a reminder and renewal of hope, joy, eternal life and salvation.

As we approach this Easter weekend, this stark contrast in feelings and responses reminds me of how we are sometimes on the emotional roller coaster in our relationship with God through Christ. There are times when we feel hopeless, helpless, in sorrow, defeated and empty. Like all is lost and all is gone. Then, when we least expect it (but always should), we become renewed. We experience the living Christ. We see our faith restored by some small miracle, some small intervention, maybe some change in our circumstances brought about through Christ’s involvement in our lives.

Maybe for you and I, when we see the cross without Christ on it, instead of feeling hopeless and defeated because our savior is gone, we should instead feel relieved, hopeful and overjoyed that he is alive and well and active in our world and in our lives. I am reminded by the words of the messengers that met the ladies at the tomb of Christ on that first Easter Morning found in Luke 24:5-6 “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!” Easter Sunday. A reminder that death has been conquered, eternal life has been made available, and we serve, follow and worship a risen savior. A risen savior that literally died for all in order to reconcile all to our heavenly father through eternal life.

REV. BARRY VASSAR is pastor at Fitzgerald Memorial Baptist. He can be reached at