Tag Archives: Easter

Expecting Easter, Forgetting Good Friday

Holy Week is upon us and it is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Honestly, it rivals Christmas for me! But even though it is one of my favorite times, it is also one of my least favorite. Yes I have a love/hate relationship with Holy Week (I write more about that HERE).  I’ve struggled with Holy Week because I eagerly and expectantly look towards Easter, but I long to forget about Good Friday. And don’t even get me started on Saturday! But we can’t have the celebration of Easter Sunday without the crushing blow of the cross. It’s so easy forget about Friday when we know that Sunday is coming.

But the disciples didn’t know what was going to take place on Sunday. Sure, Jesus had told them time and time again that he would raise from the dead, but let’s be honest, the disciples had no clue he was being literal! The disciples could not forget about Friday and look to Sunday. Friday was not yet “good” for the disciples. Friday was frightening. Friday was devastating. The disciples watched their teacher, friend, and Lord hang on a cross. Dying…

“At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sebachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”)…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.”

Pilot released Jesus’ body to Joseph of Arimathea, and he was wrapped in linen and placed in a tomb. Jesus was dead.

In modern terms, he’d been embalmed, placed in a coffin, lowered six feet down, and the dirt had already filled in the remaining hole. See why I want to skip this part? But to skip straight to Easter is to rob the story of its power and to rob me of understanding the cost of my sin and salvation.

So this year I’m committed to walking through Holy Week as the disciples did. Step by step, event by event. Because the truth is that Good Friday’s sorrow, makes Sunday’s celebration that much sweeter. We can’t begin to comprehend the depth of Jesus’ love until we consider the cross. We can’t understand God’s relentless pursuit of relationship with us until we stop to ponder the cost. We can’t truly  rejoice in the resurrection until we take in the tomb.

So this year, take in Holy Week moment by moment. Wait to sing songs of joy and celebration until Sunday and choose into the smaller selection of Good Friday’s songs of repentance and personal reflection. Yes, expect Easter, but don’t forget Friday.

The Essence of Easter

Last year I gave up religion for Lent. Yes you read that right. You can read more about it here. This year you might think I’ve given up writing! I haven’t, I promise. I’ve simply been spending time reflecting and savoring this Lenten season. Which is why this year I didn’t give up anything for Lent, but instead, I was inspired to two friends to give away an item a day. That’s 40 items in 40 days. And with Palm Sunday and Holy Week around the corner, it’s about time to share what I’ve learned from the experience.

Easter is not just a reminder of the incomprehensible sacrifice Jesus made in order to bring us back into relationship with God, but it is also an invitation to enter into the same kind of sacrifice. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus says, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” What does it mean for us to “take up your cross”? The cross is a symbol of death, a means of execution. So would a modern day reading sound something like this: “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, strap yourself to the electric chair, and follow me.”? Or, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, tie a noose around your neck, and follow me.”?

When you stop to think about it, what a strange thing for Jesus to require in order to be his disciple! But relationship with God has always required death. Initially it required to blood of an sacrificial animal. Jesus’ served as the perfect sacrifice fulfilling the law completely and tearing the curtain that separated us from God for once and for all. But death is still required. The death of our selfish ways, worldly desires, and sinful self. Romans 6:6-7 says, “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”

So what does it mean to “take up your cross” and be “crucified with Christ”? For me it means focusing more on others and less on myself. For me it means blessing people who maybe don’t “deserve” it but are still God’s children. It means not only giving when I have extra, but even when I don’t have enough. It means showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control

And it means that just like my old sinful self must take up it’s cross and be crucified with Christ, my new saved self must stay connected with the risen Christ. Because I cannot do anything that looks even remotely Christ-like in my own power! As we approach the final week of Lent and draw closer to Calvary, may we also take up our cross, crucify our old self, grow closer to Christ, and remain connected to him so that our lives ultimately are a reflection of his loving sacrifice, mercy, forgiveness, and grace. Following Christ means serving, suffering, and ultimate sacrifice. Christ gave his life for me and that inspires a response of my life for him.  And isn’t that the essence of Easter!?

Happy Holy Week!

The stack so far (minus 6 items already in new homes). Anyone need some tshirts? Jeans? Shoes? (I have a lot of shoes.) A purse? A rice cooker? Pampered chef cookware?

The stack so far (minus 6 items already in new homes). Anyone need a different wardrobe? A purse? A rice cooker? Pampered chef cookware? Shoes? (I have a lot of shoes.)

It’s Friday AND Sunday’s Coming: Thoughts on Easter


“Before the sun had risen on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene made a trip to the tomb where His body was laid to rest. In the darkness, she discovered the covering had been rolled away. She darted out of the garden to find Simon Peter and the dearly loved disciple to deliver this startling news.

Mary Magdalene: They have taken the body of our Lord, and we cannot find Him!

Together, they all departed for the tomb to see for themselves. They began to run, and Peter could not keep up. The beloved disciple arrived first but did not go in. There was no corpse in the tomb, only the linens and cloths He was wrapped in. When Simon Peter finally arrived, he went into the tomb and observed the same: the cloth that covered His face appeared to have been folded carefully and placed, not with the linen cloths, but to the side. After Peter pointed this out, the other disciple (who had arrived long before Peter) also entered the tomb; and based on what he saw, faith began to well up inside him! Before this moment, none of them understood the Scriptures and why He must be raised from the dead. 10 Then they all went to their homes.

11 Mary, however, stood outside the tomb sobbing, crying, and kneeling at its entrance. 12 As she cried, two heavenly messengers appeared before her sitting where Jesus’ head and feet had been laid.

Heavenly Messengers: 13 Dear woman, why are you weeping?

Mary Magdalene: They have taken away my Lord, and I cannot find Him.

14 After uttering these words, she turned around to see Jesus standing before her, but she did not recognize Him.

Jesus: 15 Dear woman, why are you sobbing? Who is it you are looking for?

She still had no idea who it was before her. Thinking He was the gardener, she muttered:

Mary Magdalene: Sir, if you are the one who carried Him away, then tell me where He is and I will retrieve Him.

Jesus: 16 Mary!

Mary Magdalene (turning to Jesus and speaking in Hebrew): Rabboni, my Teacher!

Jesus: 17 Mary, you cannot hold Me. I must rise above this world to be with My Father, who is also your Father; My God, who is also your God. Go tell this to all My brothers.

18 Mary Magdalene obeyed and went directly to His disciples.” (John 20:1-18, The Voice)


Each gospel account of the resurrection is slightly different, emphasizing different aspects of the events as they unfold. John’s version is my favorite. John draws me into the confusion and mystery of that wonderful morning. The women coming to pay their respects. The disciples so scared that Jesus’ body has been stolen, or perhaps so excited by the possibility that Jesus is alive that they run to the tomb – I mean, in either case, you’d run too right!? I know I would, and like Peter, I’d likely be the last to arrive, out of breath and out-sprinted by everyone else! I love that John had begun to lose faith until seeing the empty tomb for himself. At that moment, his “faith began to well up inside him.” Even the beloved disciple and Jesus’ best friend had doubts (which must make it permissible for me to have doubts too). And then there is Mary, who stays behind after all others have gone home to continue to weep and grieve for Jesus. She hasn’t quite caught on to all that has happened, and just like He always does, Jesus meets her right where she is. He instantly turns her deep despair into incredible hope.

And isn’t that the Easter message…

I have struggled to write about Easter – at least the whole story. You see, I could write volumes about Resurrection Sunday. What’s more exciting than the account of Jesus rising from the dead, conquering and claiming victory over sin and death once and for all!? What could be more joyous or hopeful than the freedom and life that comes from the resurrection!? There’s a song by Tree 63 called, “Sunday” that says, “It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming. Sunday! Hallelujah, it’s not so far, it’s not so far away.” I have always loved this song. It’s happy and hopeful, but to be those things, there must be despair and hopelessness.

You see, we can’t have one without the other. Yes, Sunday is coming, but not without living through Friday and Saturday first. And I don’t like Friday and Saturday – yes, Good Friday is indeed good, but it is full of sorrow and pain. The thought of my sin nailing Jesus to the cross is too much to bear. The truth that Jesus willingly sacrificed His life to save mine is overwhelming. If Jesus came to my town tomorrow I wouldn’t feel comfortable letting Him buy my coffee, let alone die for me! I’m supposed to be the one buying His latte and dying for Him, right? Wrong. And yet, for many years, I ignored Lent and Good Friday and focused only on the joy of Easter Sunday, too uncomfortable with the shame and sorrow to know what else to do.

However, the celebration and victory of Sunday morning is so much sweeter when you’ve also tasted the devastation and agony of defeat on Friday evening.  Both are required. Jesus cannot defeat death without first dying. He cannot conquer sin (MY sin no less) without sacrificing His life. Good Friday is only good because Sunday is amazing and Sunday is meaningless without the very real events of Friday. So yes, Sunday is coming! Hallelujah! It’s not so far away! And when life is hard, we can live in the hope of Sunday. Jesus has risen, He has risen indeed!


But we cannot forget Friday either. Friday reminds us of the cost of sin, the price of forgiveness, and the depth of love. The cross cements our identity as God’s beloved children. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8, NIV)” God values and loves us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His son to save us and have a relationship with us. When we begin to truly understand that truth, it becomes much easier to love others. When I understand how much I’m loved and how much I’m forgiven, then I can love and forgive others.

So don’t get stuck in the sorrow of Friday. And don’t skip straight to Sunday. Hold onto the tension of both. It’s Friday AND Sunday is coming!

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