Friday is here

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There’s a famous sermon that has the rhetorical line that says “It’s Friday … but Sunday’s coming”  You can listen here.

It’s powerful stuff and helpfully points us forward to the good news of the resurrection. I’m sure the words have sustained many people in the dark hours of trouble. Indeed, I owe my emphasis on #SummerIsComing to this rhetorical line.

The preacher is right to point us to Sunday, to the resurrection and the empty tomb. Jesus has defeated death, Jesus has brought new life, his resurrection is his vindication, the evidence that God is satisfied with the sacrifice, the day on which the Eternal Son is appointed son IN POWER according to Paul.[1]

However, if we turn the pastoral and poetic rhetoric here into universalised doctrine, we may miss something.  Exactly because Sunday was coming, because the Cross and the Empty tomb were and are intrinsically linked, we can say that Friday was not merely the dark hour, the point when defeat was in the air, when Satan and the World was winning.  Easter Sunday sheds light back onto Good Friday and Calvary.

Remember that it was there on the Cross that Jesus said “It is finished.” Remember that Jesus when asked by the thief to remember him when he came into his kingdom did not say “just you wait until Sunday” but instead “Today…” Remember that Paul says this:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.[2]

At times, it has seemed that we conservative evangelicals have not known what to do with Easter Sunday.  We’ve tended to conflate it too much with the crucifixion.  It’s why I get nit picky about what we sing. “This the power of the Cross” in my mind belongs on Good Friday “Up from the Grave he arose” on Easter Sunday. The response has been in recent times to push hard at the victory message of Easter. The days have also become part of the battle ground between the historic evangelical emphasis on penal substitution and Christus Victor (yes Steve Chalke quotes THAT sermon).

But get this. The Bible does talk about Christ’s victory as well as his substitution and it places the victory firmly at Calvary. Jesus did not do anything more to win (such as a trip down to Hell). Satan was defeated, death was defeated, sin was defeated at Calvary. I guess if victory imagery pushes us towards Roman warfare metaphors then if Jesus triumphed at the cross, then Resurrection Sunday is the day when the conquering general arrives back in the capital city for his victory parade, bringing captives with him in his triumphal march.

The practical lesson for now.  Christ has already overcome and even in our own darkest hour when everything looks like defeat, the spiritual battle is being won by him.

[1] Romans 1:4. The focus on that verse should be the “in power” bit. Jesus did not become Son then, he already was son but he receives his kingdom as fully God and fully man  as the risne Lord.

[2] Colossians 2:13-15.

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