It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming!” An old preacher in the deep American south repeats again and again, calling his listeners to faith, hope and love, writes Rev Mark Nicholas (Gorebridge Parish Church).
This Lent at Gorebridge Parish we are looking at the Jewish Passover, a meal of lamb, bread and wine given to the children of Israel by God in the dark days of slavery in Egypt. To this day these words are read at every Passover, “I am the LORD. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery.” (Exodus 6.6)
But the Passover meal we call the Last Supper is different. Jesus takes the bread and wine and says: “This is my body broken for you... this is my blood shed for you.” As the prophet Isaiah had written six centuries earlier: “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter... our punishment was laid on him... by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53) On Maunday Thursday Communion we will only have bread and wine. The Passover lamb points to Jesus, the “Lamb of God”, as his cousin John had called him, “who takes away the sin of the world”.
That Friday Jesus died on a cross, a day of unspeakable suffering. Saturday was the silent day, the day of grief. Jesus’ body lay in a tomb as did the hopes of his friends. Then Sunday comes, the day of bamboozled guards, confounded authorities, astonished disciples and one happy, joyful, risen Jesus!
“Greater love has no-one,” Jesus said, “than they lay their life down for their friends.” (John 15.13) Jesus’ friends were the first to grasp that through Jesus forgiveness, healing and reconciliation with their heavenly Father were now available to everyone. They believed that Jesus made a way through his death for all the hate, evil and brokenness of this world to be left in the grave, that a broken creation could be restored. Even death itself is beaten.
Along with countless millions through the ages, they believed that Jesus is not dead, that he is truly alive, that his bones are not to be found in Israel. This great hope gave them courage to care for those in need, founding communities of faith that would establish hospitals, schools and orphanages, feed the hungry and free slaves, and so, through churches like ours, it continues.
This Easter may you know this one great life-giving hope, that because of Jesus, “it’s Friday but Sunday’s coming!”