By Clare Boyd-Macrae
18 April 2022
Easter has come and gone, but lives on in the life of every Christian, a fact we celebrate every time we gather for worship on a Sunday. This year, with floods, pestilence and war dominating our consciousness, we need the power of Easter more than ever.
And Easter is nothing without Good Friday.
In the Christian story, Good Friday came first. It must have been devastating and utterly bleak.
It’s hard for us to imagine how lost and misled the disciples must have felt, as we view Jesus’ death from the other side of his resurrection.
Not to mention Jesus himself. If Jesus were genuinely human, he would not have gone to his brutal betrayal and agonising death thinking, “I just have to wait three days and it’ll be fine”. Being human, he would have felt confused and despairing. He wasn’t simply acting out a charade of death. He died.
To those who speak of God as some heartless, manipulative puppeteer, I want to paint a picture of an incarnate God: born in poverty, a refugee before he was two, misunderstood and betrayed by his friends, persecuted by the political and religious authorities, and eventually tortured to death, feeling abandoned by the God he had tried to follow.
I find this picture of Jesus more helpful than any of the glorious Jesus, golden and raised up and self-assured. When I read the news each morning, the God I want to worship is the God whose heart is the first to break when human beings are wounded, bewildered or afraid.
When people in my community are knocked sideways by an early death, the end of a marriage, chronic depression, the mental illness or drug addiction of a teenage child, I want to share with them this wounded, vulnerable God who has experienced some of the depths of human pain. Good Friday gives us this reassurance.
And then there is Easter day. Jesus’ resurrection isn’t simply a continuation of the beautiful and miraculous cycle of life, it’s a radical break with the life cycle. It is God saying not simply that life in some form will continue, but that God is stronger than death itself. That even if we destroy this planet, God will still be there, bringing it all together in God’s love.
Clearly God does not reach down and stop a toppling building, or pluck one person out of the path of a tsunami. But I do believe that in the end, God will bring it all in, drying every tear, healing every hurt, making us whole, enabling us, at last, to be completely loving.
For me, the message of Good Friday is that God is there with us in the worst that the world can dish up. The message of Easter is that God, who seems so powerless in the day-to-day tragedies of human life, is ultimately the end point of every life, every striving, every suffering and every human heart.