Articles

Good Friday Tells Us What’s Wrong with the World, Easter Tells Us What’s Right

04/10/20

Dustin Messer

It’s hard to turn on the television, read a newspaper, or check Twitter without stumbling on the following question: “What went wrong?”

I understand the question—the world seems to be spinning off its axis. Even after the economy came to a grinding halt in an effort to “flatten the curve,” the elasticity of our healthcare system is still being stressed like never before. What’s more, all this trauma is being processed in isolation. Scared, lonely, confused, we stand baffled at how it’s come to this.

Today is Good Friday, the day in which Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus. It’s therefore a good reminder for us believers that the biblical story has given us the answer to that question the world is presently asking: “What went wrong?”

You see, when sin entered the world, the reliability of health and peace left. Estranged from God, from one another, from the land, indeed even from their own selves, Adam and Eve found themselves in a “new normal.”

Good Friday points to the tragic nadir of that story: the only sinless person to ever live, Jesus, died the cursed death of a criminal. Unjust, brutal, and lonely—in Jesus’ experience we see the effects of sin most clearly.


The world is broken and bends toward chaos. This side of Eden, poverty, death, and calamity are always explicable. Keeping resources at hand and death at bay is an atypical experience for man.


The world is broken and bends toward chaos. This side of Eden, poverty, death, and calamity are always explicable. Keeping resources at hand and death at bay is an atypical experience for man.

Indeed, we should be wary of praying that things “go back to normal.” Historically speaking, 2020 is closer to normal than was 2019. The philosopher Thomas Hobbes famously described the typical life of man as, “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short.”

But if Good Friday answers the question, “what went wrong?” in times of crisis, Easter answers the question, “what went right?” in times of peace. The short answer to the latter question is, “God’s grace.”

Now, I’m not saying that every period of prosperity is the result of everyone in that culture being a Christian. No, as Jesus reminds us, the Father causes it to rain on the just and the unjust alike (Matt. 5:45). To say that all peace and prosperity enjoyed by mankind is the result of the Father’s grace is to speak of the Father’s “common grace,” i.e. that grace he lavishes upon everyone.

Sadly, we grow to take these common gifts for granted and in so doing, we fail to acknowledge the good gift giver himself, God. We assume such periods of health and wellness are the norm, that they’re natural. Like a child who thinks the refrigerator stocks itself, we ungratefully keep taking food we didn’t make or buy, thinking more will always come.


In periods of opulence, we, likewise, are tempted to look at the world in this way. We take the temporal blessings which are meant to point us to the eternal life to be found in Christ as ultimate. We settle for that which was meant only to be a foretaste. We gorge ourselves on appetizers and miss out on the main course.


In his essay “The Weight of Glory,” C.S. Lewis writes about the way a dog responds to pointing. The dog’s gaze fixes upon the finger itself, not to that thing to which the finger points.

In periods of opulence, we, likewise, are tempted to look at the world in this way. We take the temporal blessings which are meant to point us to the eternal life to be found in Christ as ultimate. We settle for that which was meant only to be a foretaste. We gorge ourselves on appetizers and miss out on the main course.

In his fascinating new book “Eat, Fast, Feast: Heal Your Body While Feeding Your Soul,” Jay W. Richards points to the absolute ubiquity of fasting among the Early Church. It was taken for granted that Christians would weekly refrain from eating food for an extended period of time. Then, when they feasted—on special holidays, on Sundays—they were in a better position to do so rightly. Not gluttonously, but gratefully.

Everyone—believers and non-believers alike—are going through a period of fasting, in one way or another. This Easter we can remind the world not only of the source of all its blessings—God’s common grace—but invite them to experience the reason for those blessings, what we sometimes call God’s “special grace.” God doesn’t just want to provide for you in the here and now; He wants to commune with you for eternity.

As we near Easter during this time of scarcity, we invite the world to feast like never before—freshly aware not only of God’s presents, but also His presence.

 

Dustin Messer is Worldview Director at Christian Academy in Frisco, TX and Curate at All Saints Dallas. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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