Easter Sunday is the greatest celebration of the Christian year – Jesus triumphant over the powers of death, sin and hell! He is risen, risen indeed!
Ah, but to get there, a cost beyond our comprehension. The mocking, the scourging, the hatred. The bearing of the crown of thorns, a link to the beginning where God told the exiles that the ground would yield thorns because of their sin. Yield them yes, and in due time He would bear those same thorns.
The road of suffering, the Golgotha Road, leading to the place of execution. Stripped, shamed, humiliated and brutalised. And hung on a cross, to die a slow agonising death.
That’s the bit we can see – we only get a glimpse of the deeper cost, when the great I AM has the weight of all human sin hung on His shoulders and the fellowship the Son has with the Father was, for the first and only time, sundered. A chasm opening up and where there was rich communion, suddenly only silence – the separation of what is holy from what is darkness and death.
I think we know this, at least in our heads. But it’s not a nice thing to dwell on. Best to move on swiftly from Good Friday, shuffling away from the brutal reality of the cost of our own darkness. But wait – for unless we start to understand what it really cost to save us, unless we begin to understand how much we have to be saved from, the resurrection on Sunday signifies little.
We don’t serve a Lord who came to show us how to be nice to each other, preaching peace and tolerance with a few Easter bunnies thrown into the mix. No, we serve a Lord who turned everything upside down, literally and figuratively – and who was not ‘nice’, or ‘peaceful’, or ‘tolerant’. He did not tolerate the principalities and powers, did not tolerate the sin, darkness and death that is endemic in us all. And he paid the cost of that intolerance in full.
Church, we had better wake up, because the same road Jesus followed is the one we must also. We also will have to reckon with mockery, abuse and slander. We also will have to tread the Golgotha Road of suffering. We also will have to endure the metaphorical cross.
Before you choose to follow Jesus, just check on the road he trod. It is the only road that will lead you to Life. But to get there, you will have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death. There is no other way. You will have a Guide who has trod that road, and will be closer to your soul than any other. But on the way to your Easter Sunday, He will also lead you through your Good Friday. There is no other way, no short cut. This is the Way of the Cross.