Today is the biggest day on the calendar of the Christian. It's the basis of our faith, the hope of our future, the power of our present. It's everything to us.
However, as I sit home today, not present at beloved Easter Sunday services with my church family because I am still sidelined by flu and bronchitis, I am still thinking about Good Friday. The day we are often tempted to glide right past because "It's Friday but Sunday's coming!" And, yes, Friday would be the darkest day of Eternity if it weren't for Sunday. If we lacked the hope of Easter Sunday, Crucifixion Friday would be completely unbearable.
But I want to focus on Friday for a bit. Why is it so important, so significant? Not just death for Jesus. Wretched, painful, frightful, lonely, terrifying crucifixion. Unlawful trial, Abandonment by friends. Humiliation. Lies. Torturous pain.
Separation from His Father.
That was the worst part for Jesus.
Although every single part had to be wretched, the worst part for Him was when God laid all the sin of the world - mine and yours included - on Him. And then God had to turn His back. He cannot look on sin.
So when Jesus became sin, God had to separate from Him. He had to turn away from the Supreme Object of His Divine Love.
Since the beginning of Eternity, The Two had never been separated. Never had there been a moment that Jesus had not felt complete favor and perfect love and absolute acceptance from His Father.
Until the moment when He had to accept the weight of sin - of mine and of yours - and bear the consequences.
The consequence - the payment - of sin is death. Separation. Physical. Emotional. Death.
Because God is a just God, that payment must be made. He would not be Holy if He were not just.
Because He is a merciful God, He allowed the entire payment to be made by One other than those who deserve to pay it, you and me.
Good Friday is the reminder of that payment.
When God fulfilled His plan from before time began to let His sinless Son pay a debt He did not owe. So that those who owed it but could not pay it could live.
I just can't celebrate Resurrection Sunday until I have fully pondered Terrible Friday. Yes, we call it "Good" because it certainly brings Good News. Yes, it is indeed Good, because God showed mercy that day. It's GOOD because it means I never have to bear even one drop of God's wrath. The anger and punishment that I rightfully deserve. But it's still terrible because the wages of sin are awful. The consequences of sin are not able to be swept under a rug, or apologized away. Or worse yet, laughed off or defiantly justified.
Sin - any and everything that is in any way less than God's perfect law of love and holiness - is awful. It deceives us by promising what it cannot deliver in sustainability or quality. It tempts us with what seems like "the good life" but in actuality, eventually delivers "the lonely death", We believe it for a time and tell ourselves that we are different, that all those legalistic people are wrong. That list of "right and wrong" is old news.
But sin. It separates us from people, it ensnares us in addictions of all kinds (even the seemingly "acceptable" ones like workaholism or relentless ambition), and then it mocks us, haunts us, shames us. Sin takes us farther than we want to go, costs us more than we want to pay, and keeps us longer than we want to stay.
The impact of sin still lingers in the world. Even though Resurrection Sunday came, even though Jesus stripped Death of its power and triumphed over evil,even though those who accept His free gift no longer face the eternal consequences of sin, sin is still present.
We see it everywhere. In the world of nature where poisonous weeds choke out beautiful flowers and ferocious beasts stalk innocent victims to kill. In the minor illnesses I am now battling to the stage 4 lung cancer of the dad of one of my best friends. In the suffering of some precious kids due to the choices of their father that broke apart their family. In the "personal choices" of some folks whose insistence of their "rights" ring hollow in the ripple effects that go way beyond "just personal" to the reality of "lots of innocent people". In the turbulence of the world that threatens any sense of peace and security we might have held. In the loss of my Dad that my Mom will feel until the day she joins him. In the spiritual deserts some whom I hold dear are wandering while we fervently pray they return to His best. Sin still exists.
And it will. Although Jesus defeated it with His death, although God accepted His payment for sin in full, that only applies to those who accept His gift. Who exchange their filthy rags of sin for His Holy robe of righteousness. For those and only those, sin is defeated. It no longer has the power to separate those from the presence of God, where fullness of joy dwells. For the rest of the world, sin still reigns.
And while we who belong to Christ live in this world, we are impacted by this sin. Sometimes the impact is caused by our own choice to sin. But lots of the time (most?) it is simply the fact that we live in a world corrupted by sin. A world that will One Day be made right by Jesus's return.
Until then, the impact of sin hurts us all.
That's what I am dwelling on, this glorious Resurrection Day.
Without Resurrection Day, Crucifixion Day would be the most wretched of all days, the most hopeless, yes.
But without Crucifixion Day, Good Friday...Resurrection Day would lose its Glory. The triumph over Death would mean little without the reality of what Sin costs.
Happy Easter, y'all. ALL of it. From Friday to Sunday, Happy Easter, y'all.