Skipping Good Friday

Easter Sunday is just around the corner. It is the time of year Christians around the world focus on Jesus’ resurrection. There is a real part inside us that would just like to skip right over Good Friday and land on Easter Sunday, kind of like watching The Passion of the Christ and using the scene forward button to skip half the movie…we just can’t take it. It would be like reading The Old Man and the Sea and taking out everything that had to do with fish. The story wouldn’t ever become a classic if it left out the tension. It would just be a story about a tired old man’s conversation with a kid that skipped right to a really tired old man talking having a second conversation with a kid.

Sometimes we would rather skip the blood and shame Jesus experienced…and that is understandable. It is just too much for us. Fortunately for God, it was enough. It is easy to feel that way about the Jesus story because the cross is not a comfortable place to hang out. I would rather see Roman soldiers running afraid of the angels than I would see them put nails in the hands of my Savior. I would rather hear a victory speech than words of seeming defeat. I would rather smile and laugh than cry. It is how we are wired…to avoid pain and seek pleasure. The cross hits one of those and the empty tomb the other and so we avoid the cross and seek out the empty tomb.

And we do get the victory…but first we get death. We get the wait. The tension. The questions of his disciples…some of whom had gone back to fishing…will he stay dead or will he rise just like he said he would? You can’t have Easter Sunday until you go through Good Friday.

On a side note, here is a great summary of the Christian imagery in the Old Man and the Sea

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

10 Responses to Skipping Good Friday

  1. Jim says:

    To begin with, we first have to admit to celebrating Easter. For a long time the C of C would preach Moses on Easter to get as far away from it as possible. When some began celebrating Easter, it was more like Good Friday where Jesus was dead and still it, basically, no resurrection. When the liturgy is in the gospels and it can’t be read, then we have a problem. Also, growing up C of C, I was told Good Friday was only a Catholic holiday.

  2. Jim says:

    Is, not it, typo, sorry

  3. John says:

    Very good in how you moved from Jesus to “we” in having to go through Good Friday before we get to the resurrection, through the pain before the healed life. I have tried, notice I said “tried”, to live the truth that I cannot get to tomorrow until I live through today, and whatever is in it. Simple, I know. But it does give, I believe, the “present” its holiness.

  4. For Jesus, the cross came before the crown. The Devil’s temptation was to offer a cross-less crown. The crowd offered the same temptation after he fed the 5,000. Jesus sent his twelve away, for they would have gladly taken the lead in making Him king by force, while He Himself went up the mountain to pray. Peter objected when Jesus said He would die – effectively repeating the cross-less crown temptation. Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan.”

    Paul frequently has the same sequence for us. In baptism we die with Jesus before we rise to new life. In 2 Cor 7:3 he said “we would die or live with you.” The NIV gets this woefully wrong by saying “live or die.” That may be good English idiom, but it misses the Greek sequence of Paul’s words. We die in order to live.

    Yet, we’d prefer it “live or die” than “die or live.” When we do look at the cross, it is often to manipulate people emotionally instead of seeing the reality of Jesus taking the burden of our sins (which is emotional enough!) because of His great love.

    Great post, Matt!

  5. Candy says:

    I think your post today really hit the mark, Matt. it seems to me like to many Christians of all denominations try to gloss over or not pay much attention to what happened on Good Friday. Easter could not have happened without the ultimate sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus Christ, on the cross, and we need to remember that.

  6. I don’t know whether to start with the premise or the subtext, but I’ll take a shot at this. There’s no way to say this without at least a few words, and I’m having to skip over some salient points.

    Joh 4:23-24
    (23) But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
    (24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    First, God is a spirit, and those that worship him must worship in spirit and truth. “Good Friday” not only contradicts the crucifixion but creates a stark contradiction in the biblical narrative. Jesus said he was giving one sign and one sign only to the disbelieving Pharisees, that he would be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights, like Jonah, as the sign of the prophet Jonah. What “Good Friday” essentially requires is:

    . 1. God makes promises he doesn’t keep, or
    . 2. God (or the gospel authors) cannot count, or
    . 3. The gospel narratives are fictional (which would explain the obvious contradiction)
    . 4. That “faith” means blindly following tradition and turning off our brain, and simply accepting whatever we are told, no matter how obviously wrong it is

    * * * Why would anyone think that Jesus was killed on a Friday anyway?

    There are additional side effects caused by the Good Friday tradition as well, one of which being that this creative fiction upstages the actual events and symbolism of the Passover. If we assume that God authored this event, given the amount of time and resources he took with its planning, I think we should have some respect for the details and events as he laid them out.

    Jesus did not die on a Friday, there was no “Good Friday”, if you need a “Good” day for his death, you need a “Good Wednesday.” Except I have a feeling that “Good Wednesday” would be extremely unpopular because it doesn’t sound very [Catholic] traditional.

    The second problem is the nature of the following “Easter” itself. Even the name “Easter” should give a little warning seeing that it’s a Babylonian name and evokes images of brightly colored eggs, rabbits, and baby chicks… all of which have nothing to do with Christ and everything to do with their relation to pagan fertility symbols. The Catholics even call Mary the “Queen of Heaven” especially relating to Easter.

    Exo 34:25 KJV
    (25) Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven; neither shall the sacrifice of the feast of the passover be left unto the morning.

    Jer 10:2-3 KJV
    (2) Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.
    (3) For the customs of the people are vain…

    Jer 7:18 The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger.

    Mat 6:7 KJV
    (7) But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: …

    The entire Bible is full of this theme and subtext. God does not want to be worshiped as the heathen are worshiped. He does not want us to take their offerings and their idols and their traditions and simply have them transferred to the altar of the living God. Such really does constitute the nature of that “strange fire” … (and for the record, I am not a hard-core Church of Christ traditionalist)

    Num 3:4 KJV
    (4) And Nadab and Abihu died before the LORD, when they offered strange fire before the LORD, in the wilderness of Sinai, …

    There is meaning in the actual symbols, the actual dates, the actual events, but a substitution of different symbols, different events, and different dates works against what Someone went to great pains (and I mean this most literally) to lay out for us.

    So speak of the Passover, speak of the cross, speak of the empty tomb or Christ’s ascension, these are all fine and biblical. But Lent, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter… this is a leavened replacement that fights against the text and the subtext.

    1Co 5:7-8 KJV
    (7) Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
    (8) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

    If we will keep this feast in sincerity and truth, then sincerity will demand truth rather than become offended at it. That would be a good place to start, and should help unveil the meaning that “Good Friday and Easter Sunday” have obscured, even the meaning that Christ died for.

    William Tyndale is a personal hero of mine, and I happened to be able to read his “In Defense of the Sacraments” where he took a slightly different stance than I might have expected. He said that sacraments could be a good thing and entirely beneficial to the Christian, provided that they knew what they stood for. However, in cases where the participants no longer knew what they stood for and simply repeated them out of blind tradition, he said that that the sacrament no longer had value and had become an idol.

    “And again, a good man might err in many things, and not be damned; so that his error were not directly against the promises that are in Christ’s blood, neither that he held them maliciously: as if I believed that the souls were in heaven immediately, and that they prayed for us, as we do one for another, and did believe that they prayed to some saint to pray for me, to put him in remembrance only, as I pray my neighbour, and without other trust or confidence; and though all be false, yet should I not be damned, so long as I had no obstinacy therein: for the faith that I have in Christ’s blood should swallow up that error, till I were better taught.

    (William Tyndale, from Dialogue with Sir Thomas More)

    So why are people celebrating Christ’s death on a Friday, and what does the symbolism of colored eggs, Easter bunnies, jellybeans and hot cross buns represent? What does this have to do with the crucifixion of Christ and his new testament in his blood? God seeks those who would worship him in spirit and truth.

    • mattdabbs says:

      Andrew,

      What argument would you make for Jesus being killed on any day but Friday?

      John 19:14 – “It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.”
      Luke 23:50-56 – “50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

      55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”

      That seems pretty clear to me. Jesus rose on a Sunday. Jesus was in the grave three days. Jesus was killed on a Friday. I am really not sure what to make of your comment, in all due respect. It looks like you have thought really hard about this but I just don’t follow your train of thought here at all. Help me get it.

      • Hello Matt, Thank you for that question.

        I think I might be able to help you get it.

        First, I must point out that none of those verses say anything about Passover being on a Friday (or even a sixth day of the week.) Passover is always a a preparation day *because* the day following is always a Sabbath by definition, regardless of the day of the week. You *can* have a sabbath day on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, or even the 6th day of week. The day before a sabbath day is called a “preparation day” (unless that day is also a sabbath.)

        Passover precedes the first day of unleavened bread, and the first and last days of that feast are annual Sabbaths, regardless of the of weekly Sabbath. Friday (or the sixth day of the week) is never specifically mentioned in the gospel accounts, but I can show you what happened on Friday.

        Luk 23:54-56 KJV
        (54) And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.
        (55) And the women also, which came with him from Galilee, followed after, and beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid.
        (56) And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.

        That passage references two different sabbath days, the one that always follows the passover, and the one that always follows the sixth day of the week. The Jew that would have read this passage would not be confused.

        The Passover is the preparation day for unleavened bread by definition.
        The first day of unleavened bread is a sabbath by definition.
        Jesus was taken down because the Sabbath (not the 7th day) drew on.

        (Incidentally, the Jewish day starts with evening, as in “the evening and the morning were the first day” and this is how their Sabbaths are calculated…. the dark portion comes first.)

        There was nowhere for Jewish women to buy hundreds of pounds of burial spices in the last fading minutes of the preparation day. They would keep the annual sabbath and return on Friday (another preparation day), would spend the better part of a day purchasing and transporting spices and ointments, and then rest the Sabbath Day according to the commandment.

        0. Passover itself is always a preparation day because it precedes unleavened bread.
        1. The first sabbath was the annual sabbath, the first day of unleavened bread.
        2. The second sabbath was according to the commandment, the seventh day.
        3. There is no mention of that first preparation being “Friday” of “the sixth day of the week.”

        Besides, basic mathematics requires three days and three nights, as Jonah experienced these days and nights in the fish. Jesus even specifically said three days and three nights, and it is impossible to rationalize three days and three nights after Friday to the darkness before the first day of the week when the tomb already stood empty.

        Besides, do you remember when Jesus told his disciples to seek a man carrying water? That detail is significant, because Jewish men didn’t carry water. That was women’s work, so this itself would be something unusual. However, the Essenes (remember the Dead Sea scrolls?) would carry their own water because they didn’t have women in their community.

        A couple more interesting tidbits about the Essenes:

        * The Essenes were vegetarian, and their Passover observances were likewise vegetarian, without an actual lamb. Do you remember a lamb being mentioned in that last supper? Who was the Lamb? “God will provide the lamb?”

        * The Essenes (for whatever reason, we can only speculate) always kept the Passover on the third day of the week (what you would consider Tuesday night). Yes, this was irregular and contrary to traditional Judaism, but maybe even this was in preparation for this night, so Christ could observe the Passover with the symbolism of bread and wine, and still allow the Lamb to be slain on the Passover with his actual flesh and blood.

        Bluntly, scripture doesn’t say anything that should cause any confusion here. The context is the Passover and the days of unleavened bread, which are defined in the Old Testament. The same scripture that defines the Passover also defines the annual and the weekly Sabbaths.

        Lev 16:29-31 KJV
        (29) And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you:
        (30) For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
        (31) It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.

        Here is an example where the 10th day of the 7th month is defined as a Sabbath. By the very nature of the lunar calendar (which also holds true for our modern calendar) on most years this would not be the 7th day of the week.

        Lev 23:24 KJV
        (24) Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

        Here again, the first day of the seventh month is also a sabbath, regardless of the day of the week, another example of how an annual sabbath has nothing to do with “Saturday.” To save space, Leviticus 23:38-39, in the seventh month day 15 and day 21 are both sabbaths regardless of the day of the week.

        Same chapter, just up a few verses, here is the definition of passover and unleavened bread:

        Lev 23:4-7 KJV
        (4) These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
        (5) In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover.
        (6) And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
        (7) In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

        That holy convocation and “no servile work therein” means sabbath, it is just another way of saying the same thing with more words. “Sabbath” is defined thus throughout this chapter.

        Joh 19:31 KJV
        (31) The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.

        A high day is not the same as the weekly sabbath according to the commandment. John is even specific here so that people should not be confused. So how does “Friday” insert itself in here? The bit about the Essene meatless passover on Tuesday is not common knowledge, but….

        1. A basic emphasis on the Old Testament should recognize that there is a sabbath every high day in addition to the seventh day of the week.

        2. A basic emphasis on counting should recognize that Friday night, Saturday day, and Saturday night is not three days and three nights under any reasonable system of accounting.

        3. A basic familiarity with the sabbath would indicate that it would be impossible to go out and purchase burial spices in Jerusalem on the sabbath (or the last fading minutes of a preparation day). Joseph had spices because 1) he was rich and 2) he already had them and the tomb already. A Wednesday passover if the only day that would fit the biblical account.

        Count three days and and three nights backwards from when the tomb was first found empty on the first day of the week and you arrive at a Wednesday crucifixion.

        And this doesn’t even touch on the sign of the prophet Jonah yet. Remember what Jesus gave as a sign?

        Mat 12:39-41 KJV
        (39) But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:
        (40) For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
        (41) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

        Do you remember what Jonah preached to Ninevah? Forty days and this city shall be destroyed? It would have been destroyed except they repented. So the question is, what might we expect to happen to Jerusalem if it was given the sign of Jonah but would not repent?

        Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D, forty years after the crucifixion. The date of Jerusalem’s destruction is not controversial. Count backwards forty years and you should get the date of Christ’s crucifixion. Want to make a guess what day the Jewish passover was in 30 A.D. (verifiable with Jewish date calculators?) It isn’t Friday… but rather what you’d expect from everything so far, the middle of the week, what we think of as Wednesday.

        So, once we’ve stripped away a bad assumption that “preparation day” means “Friday” and “sabbath” means “seventh day of the week” is there any valid reason to think that the crucifixion was on Friday? In spite of (in contradiction of) Christ’s sign of three days and three nights in the tomb?

        “Good Friday” comes from Roman tradition, not the scripture. If Jesus gave a sign he must have kept it, if the women were to buy burial spices they cannot do so during fading light, and we must assume that God and the disbelieving Pharisees were able to count to three and to tell the difference between days and nights.

        If this seems at all confusing, please give me a way to send a diagram.

        3rd day of week, day, Jesus tells disciples to seek a man carrying water and inquire about a place to eat the passover, he would have a room already prepared… see Mark 14:13-15

        4rd day of week, dark, Preparation day. Jesus eats with his disciples and is arrested.
        4th day of week, daytime, Preparation day. Jesus on cross, rushed to tomb. Women see.
        5th day of week, dark, High day sabbath. Jesus in tomb.
        5th day of week, daytime, High day sabbath. Jesus in tomb.
        6th day of week, dark, Preparation day. Everyone asleep. Jesus in tomb.
        6th day of week, daytime, Preparation day. Women buy spices. Jesus in tomb.
        7th day of week, dark, Weekly sabbath. Everyone asleep. Jesus in tomb.
        7th day of week, daytime, Weekly sabbath. Jesus in tomb.
        1st day of week, dark, Women find empty tomb before it is is first light.

        Joh 20:1 KJV
        (1) The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.

        Count up the instances of “Jesus in tomb” above, and you should have three days and three nights. And even if you had a working station wagon you wouldn’t be able to buy burial spices during the passover evening, when it was so late that they were breaking legs so as to make sure they would “keep the sabbath.” The merchants would be closed.

        Maybe skipping “Good Friday” would be a good idea, and who knows what might already be in scripture that is waiting to take its place. Out with superstition and in with spirit and truth.

        This begs the next question, why did God say not to offer the blood of his sacrifice with leaven? Maybe God might consider this symbolism rather important? What does leavening represent? If we are going to keep an observance, or a sacrament, we should know the meaning, lest it become a superstition or an idol.

      • mattdabbs says:

        Thanks for laying that out. I will do a bit more reading in that in Monday when I have more time to dig in.

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