Good Friday or Easter Christians?
- Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Text: Luke 24:11
Is Christianity built on nonsense? At first the apostles seem to think so. Some devout women tell them about the empty tomb and the two men in dazzling apparel. Luke records: "But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense." For a moment let's project ourselves into the ways their brains are working: "It is preposterous to toy with such ambitious ideas . . . It is unthinkable that dead flesh and cold blood can become alive and warm . . . It is silly to believe anyone as thoroughly dead as Jesus is capable of quitting the grave."
These men do not realize how utterly inadequate their faith is. They may be questioning the reliability of such a woman as Mary Magdalene. They may be thinking the motherly inclinations of these women are playing tricks on them. Whatever they are thinking it is obvious they do not have the great faith of a grain of mustard seed which their Master spoke about. They do not comprehend the heinous possibility their doubts raise: The death upon a cross of the religion which promises mankind the most precious rewards. Their time-pieces say it is Easter Sunday. Their hearts and minds say it is Good Friday. They will not live many more days until all will discover their mistake and keep up with the times. Are you and I as fortunate?
I think we are not really acquainted with the apostles until we see their wonder-filled vision is now a frustrating memory. The gloom begins to build on Maundy Thursday and reaches its apex late on Good Friday as Jesus grimaces in pain and drops His head in stillness. As long as their Lord talks with them, counsels them, and does miracles, they are content. In Jesus they find those blessed indications of "hope springing eternal". Their expectations are so great some of them argue angrily over who will sit at His right hand in glory. The bright lights of future power, unexcelled contentment, and absolute security dance in their heads. Good Friday has the effect of wiping the slate clean.
It was fine while it lasted. A very good man filled with unmatched compassion and uncanny wisdom is now extinct. The late Jesus of Nazareth takes His place in the obituary columns. Their memories linger on and each is more sentimental than he thinks becoming the male species. They are to learn the value of a memory transformed into a vision of boundless and exciting proportions. Have you and I crossed this bridge?
Is Christianity built on an irrefutable fact? Mary Magdalene, Joana, Mary (mother of Jesus), and some other women dare to believe it is. They refuse to be tied to what is humanly attainable. They say to themselves, "If our assumptions point to human gullibility, then let then". Never have they been faced with the superhuman possibilities to which the lonely and useless burial garments point. They are adventurous enough to take that great leap of faith. Much to their amazement it is taken with comparative ease. Enough of this Good Friday stuff for them! Down with the dismal ones who accept defeat!
There's no denying what they have seen and heard. Have they not seen the stone rolled away? Have they not seen the barren slab where Jesus was placed? Have they not heard the two men ask, "Why do you seek the living among the dead?" Seeing is believing and they have seen the evidence of a Christ who is not dead. What their eyes see and their ears hear is very convincing. They can personally testify to a vacated tomb. Can you and I do as much? Do we have the courage to believe and practice what we have seen and heard?
A critical and crucial transition is ours to make. It is Easter Christianity which is empowered to change the world and not the Good Friday variety. So our question is clear-cut, "Are we Good Friday or Easter Christians?" This poses some distinct choices.
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