I’ve never really celebrated Good Friday until I came to India. The concept of Good Friday seemed like a religious ritual, as it does for fasting for lent and communion. I had never even heard of the term Maundy Thursday until a few years ago. Easter on the other hand, is something of a national celebration, with church, family, Easter Egg Hunts, Easter movies, and the Easter Bunny. Filled with festivals and parades, Easter is celebrated around the world and by almost all cultures. Good Friday, the day Christians celebrate the crucifixion of Christ, is typically an afterthought. Is that the way it’s supposed to be? Is the resurrection to be celebrated more than the crucifixion?
We celebrate events for only one reason, what they mean to us. Throughout prophetic history, it is the crucifixion that is proclaimed as the great victory over sin and death. It is the fulfilment of the covenant. It is the propitiation as well as the expiation for sin. And it is the bridge that restores the intimate relationship that creation was intended and destined to have with God. Therefore, it is the central component to the creation story. The day we celebrate this historic and monumental occasion, is Good Friday. The same day we typically relax at home on our day off (if we get a day off).
On the other hand, we have the resurrection. The day on which Jesus has risen to life after death had been defeated in the crucifixion. What more is it than that? It is a proof that God was victorious at the cross. It is a sign, as John puts it, that God is who He proclaims himself to be. Is there any more significance than this, a simple testimony and sign to help confirm our faith? Jesus says that those who have not seen, yet believe, are blessed. Why do we need to “see” additional proof? As if, Jesus had not done enough through his life to show who He was, and even if we did believe that He was God through His miracles, we still needed proof that God had kept His end of the bargain, that God had paid the ransom prophesized. Only the resurrection could be that proof. But it is just that, nothing more than proof of the actual victory that is the crucifixion.
The crucifixion changed the course of history. It completed and fulfilled the masterpiece of creation. The resurrection is simply sugar coating to confirm are faith in this fact. In a murder trial, what is more important, the date and time of the verdict or the date and time that the verdict is announced to the public? Naturally, the verdict itself is the most significant fact.
In the crucifixion and resurrection story, it is the other way around. The actual verdict event happened on Friday (Good Friday), we found out about it only on Sunday (Easter). Worse than that, if we truly have faith, we shouldn’t have had to find out about it at all. The prophecies and the covenant should have been enough if our faith is strong. If Jesus had risen and gone directly back to heaven, without telling anyone on Earth, the victory would still have been won. Death would still have been defeated.
It is for our infinitely failing faith, that Jesus had to show Himself on Earth before ascending back to His home. And we celebrate the day that He addresses our weak faith. As I said, we celebrate the date that means most to us. The actual crucifixion was the actual payment of our penalty, but it was a transaction between God and the sin Jesus had born for man. We celebrate the resurrection because it shows how the crucifixion victory benefits us; we too can be raised again. Paul more or less states the same.
We celebrate Easter because of our own self-serving desires as well as our lack of faith. God and the rest of Creation celebrate Good Friday.