The Death and Resurrection of Christ
Open Your Bible
Matthew 27:32-50, Galatians 2:19-20, Luke 24:36-49, Colossians 1:15-20
When I was nine, I had a theory that it always rained on Good Friday. And in my limited experience north of the Mason-Dixon line, it did rain on most Fridays before Easter. This made me believe that the earth was grieving, groaning, and remembering the world-altering death of Christ on that day. Looking up from my coloring book there at the dining room table to the cold, spring rain on our grass, I felt what I still feel today: sadness.
A feeling of melancholy, sentimental or otherwise, over the death of Christ is certainly not an emotion unique to little girls in the Midwest. Christ’s misery was deeply painful to those who were with Him on that day, and is still real to us today. In his “Homily of the Passion,” second-century bishop Melito of Sardis wondered:
What new mystery is this?
The judge is judged and remains silent;
The invisible one is seen and does not hide himself;
The incomprehensible one is comprehended and does not resist;
The unmeasurable one is measured and does not struggle;
The one beyond suffering suffers and does not avenge himself;
The immortal one dies and does not refuse death.
What new mystery is this?
We can join the bishop in his wonder at this deep and painful mystery. And it is right that we should mourn. It is right that we want to turn away from the thought of Christ crucified. It is truly painful, and it’s the pain of the world turned upside down. Immortality gasping for breath means something has gone terribly wrong.
The wrong is written on our own foreheads. Every Ash Wednesday, we remember that we are the ones who are dust and ashes, that the sin that turned the world upside down is our sin. It is my sin—my daily run-of-the-mill gossip and petty jealousy. In spite of my horror and grief when I remember Christ’s suffering, I also rise up in joyous wonder that He has taken my place.
There is a tension here. We mourn at the pain of Christ’s suffering, but we dance—and I do mean dance—because we are restored by His sacrifice. My grief can turn to celebration because, like Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). What a glorious realization of our freedom!
It doesn’t matter whether or not I think it should rain on Good Friday as some symbol of cosmic mourning. What matters is that on a certain day, many years ago, the sky turned black (Matthew 27:45), the world was turned upside down, and the Son of God gave Himself for us. And in spite of our sadness, we will forever rejoice.