Death Denying Church

English: Titian's Ancona Crucifiction, 1558.

English: Titian’s Ancona Crucifiction, 1558. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, Sunday’s coming–but that’s for another day. Today is Friday, and tomorrow is Saturday. It was so for Jesus, it is so for our world, and if it is not so for us, we might actually be self-serving, world-denying Gnostics.  ~Dr. Steven Harmon

All day today, my Facebook feed had variations of the same message:  “Today is Friday, but Sunday’s coming!”  This simple message anticipated the resurrection of Christ, that moment when the women discovered that Jesus had risen and had been the first to proclaim the Good News.  It anticipates the Christian joyful belief that Christ had defeated death after descending into Hades as the ancient creeds posit.

But before there is Sunday and the Resurrection, there is Friday.  There is betrayal.  Dismay.  Bone-crushing grief.  Anger.  Confusion.  Sadness.  Uncertainty.  Doubt.  Before there is Sunday, there is a flogged, torn and bleeding Messiah nailed to a crude wooden cross.  Before there is Sunday, there is a man who came to save his nation, but who was rejected by those same people.  Before there is Sunday, there is a follower who betrays his Lord and friend.  Before Sunday comes, one of Jesus’ most trusted friends denies even knowing him – because he was so afraid.  Before Sunday comes, there are followers scared and trembling, rightly fearing for their own lives.

Before Sunday comes, a Roman puppet governor gives in to the crowd.  Before Sunday comes, the religious leaders would pat themselves on the back for getting rid of a “problem” in order to save Israel from the Romans, little knowing that Jesus came to save Israel first.  This “problem” would prove to be the least of their worries as the resurrected Messiah would empower his followers to even more boldness in the name of Jesus.  Nor would killing this Messiah be successful at preventing the Romans from defeating Jerusalem; it just delayed the inevitable.

Before Sunday comes, a thief receives the promise of Paradise.  Before Sunday comes, a heart-broken mother receives a new son.  Before Sunday comes, a member of the religious ruling class would bury this bruised and bleeding body in a new garden tomb.  Before Sunday comes, followers scatter and flee in fear for their lives.

If we ignore Christ’s agony of today as he hung on the cross; if we ignore the fear, sadness and confusion of those early followers; and if we ignore the raw misery of God as God watched God’s own son suffer, bleed and die for God’s creation, then we risk ignoring the suffering and pain in the world around us. We risk fluffing over the incredibly high price that Jesus paid for our sins. We risk minimizing the degree to which that debt was ours that God canceled for us. We risk minimizing the power of the cross for our own comfort.


One response to “Death Denying Church

  1. Love this! Thank you.



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