Do you sometimes struggle with how to mark Good Friday?

Every year, it is the same event that we remember: Jesus’ punishment and death to pay for the sins of the world.  As we commemorate Good Friday, it is again with some sorrow in my heart.

But the sorrow we have seems to me very different from the sorrow of those who watched the events of the first Good Friday.  The reason for our sorrow on Good Friday is much different than the disciples’.  They were sad because they thought they would never see Jesus again.  They forgot so much of what Jesus had said to them that they thought that God’s plan for a Savior must have gone wrong and now their friend and leader had died.

Our sorrow is because we understand all too well that God’s plan did not fail.  Instead, we are grieved that God’s plan called for Jesus’ death instead of ours because of our sins. We are the reason that Jesus suffered and died.

As we come to Good Friday again, it seems a bit like an odd habit I sometimes have watching sports.  I rarely sit down to watch a whole basketball or football game live and so I most often record a game.  Oddly also, I like to know the outcome of the game but without any other details before I watch it. I don’t know if that makes me not a real sports fan…perhaps so.

But when I watch, knowing that my team has won the game, I have very little anxiety even when things aren’t going well or my team is behind.  Bad calls or unfairness take a backseat to my knowing that everything works out OK for a victory.  OK for me because I didn’t have to do any of the work to win the game.  OK for me because Jesus took on all my sin and suffered in my place.

Easter declares for us the victory over death but Good Friday seems to me a little bit like watching the struggle of the game.  There are times when it seems like defeat is coming.  There are times that it’s painful to watch.  But we know the outcome.

So on this Good Friday, listen to some hymns or Christian music. Worship. Read Scripture. Pray. And whatever you do, know that even in your sorrow for sin, the payment has been made!

—This post is written by Rev. Steven Smith, Campus Pastor & Professor of Theology at Concordia University Wisconsin.

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