The True Meaning of Good Friday and Easter, Resurrected

By Brandon Evans:
This weekend, Christians celebrate the historical events that launched our movement. We begin with “Good Friday,” the ironically named remembrance of Jesus’ death. (How is that good, exactly? Some people wonder.) We conclude with Easter, the celebration of Jesus’ death-defeating resurrection that is dubiously named and has been co-opted by an omnipresent bunny and wicker baskets filled with armies of Peeps.
My stomach has the sugar-aches just by looking into their eyes. Anyway, this is, traditionally, a weekend of great unity where people dress their best and attend elaborately decorated churches and have elaborate feasts together.
Except for this year.
This year is going to be… slightly different.
Christians will still be uniting, but through individual screens while dressed in their best pajamas.
Church buildings will be empty, except for the few participating in producing a webcast.
We won’t be attending Easter egg hunts or crowding into booths for eggs benedict.
Easter decorations won’t be emerging from their cardboard box tombs.
The trappings of Easter have been suddenly taken away. And that’s a good thing, in my opinion. Sometimes we need to lose the pasteled plastic we cover this weekend with to be reminded of what it’s all about in the first place.
We need the true meaning of Good Friday. Now, more than ever.
Why? Because Good Friday is a funeral, the collective mourning over Jesus’ death. It is a day where Jesus absorbed the world’s sin and sadness through a vicious means of capital punishment.
We need Good Friday because death is an unavoidable enemy.
Good Friday is where we collectively mourn the death of Jesus and death of all kinds. Just as there was a buildup to Jesus’ death on the first Good Friday, life is infected with a series of little deaths leading up to physical death. The breakups, the drifting apart, the loss of vocations, the end of opportunities. These little deaths are tremors before the earthquake. They are an enemy, too.
This year, death is painfully in front of us. As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned, Holy Week is “going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans’ lives, quite frankly. This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it’s not going to be localized.” But Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn”. Mourning is a virtue, meaning that sharing in the grief of others and lamenting over the fallen state of the world is something we are to actively pursue. And Good Friday brings us together to do this, to collectively mourn. We don’t want to mourn, because it’s painful. So we avoid it. We ignore it. We try to laugh over it. But Good Friday confronts us with it. And we need to mourn right now.
But Good Friday is not a hopeless time of mourning. It also reminds us that death has a purpose. Jesus’ death was cleansing and liberating, the ultimate power of God on full display. On Good Friday, a great battle with sin and death was waged.
We can’t have the celebration of Easter without the sadness of Good Friday.
But Good Friday is good because of what happened on Easter.
So we need the true meaning of Easter. Now, more than ever.
Why? Easter is a surprising reappearance. The return of an assassinated King. The reversal of despair. The beginning of eternal life.
We need Easter because death is not the end of the story.
New life springs on the other side of it.
Easter reminds us that death will one day die, and life will always live.
And this year, we are collectively seeing new beginnings on the horizon. The budding signs of Spring. The flattening of the curve. Restoration. Reunion.
Easter reminds us that new beginnings have arrived with Jesus.
Easter reminds us that not only is there new life after death, but also a new life before it too.
Easter reminds us that there is ultimate victory ahead.
I’m not saying we should forgo the backyard egg hunts or pretend like we haven’t just stuffed six Peeps in our mouths at once. That’s unnecessary. We can enjoy the traditions. What I am saying is that we’ve been given a gift by God to have an Easter weekend that is simpler than usual. Through the forced simplicity, we can be recalibrated to the heart of what Good Friday and Easter are all about.
And I hope we will see that Jesus was always enough.