In the 1970’s Tony Campolo delivered what has become his signature sermon, “It’s Friday, But Sunday’s Coming“. The sentiment of that sermon is the basis for this article.
I understand why many churches hold special services on Good Friday. There is something particularly meaningful about meeting here today knowing that on this Sunday of Passover weekend a couple of thousand years ago, by 11:30 in the morning the disciples were in shock as the processed the news that God had raised Jesus from the dead. We can imagine what we would feel like if we’d gone at sunrise to a grave and met and angel, or if we’d met Jesus himself – alive. There’s something special about that happening today.
So while my church only has a Sunday service, I ‘get’ the value of a Friday service. It’s an opportunity to walk through the events of the day with Jesus. I know he was crucified in another time zone and climate, but because it’s the exact day (in relation to Passover) I can project my weather, my sunrise, my daily schedule onto his experience. It places me more in the Bible story of the crucifixion in a way that other Fridays don’t.
In my mind, Friday and Sunday often find themselves in competition with each other. They’re different. They prompt different emotional responses. The message they each proclaim differs from the other. Sometimes I find myself trying to decide which is the most important or valuable. All the while I know the truth that Sunday and Friday need each other to have any meaning.
Obviously resurrection never occurs without Jesus first dying. On the other hand what would be the point of Jesus dying for our sins if there was no resurrection. Although it may not be obvious, Friday finds meaning in Sunday just as Sunday has no significance without Friday.
In my experience, for most of the year churches generally emphasise Friday over Sunday. Here are some characteristics I associate with Friday:
- A legal transaction;
- Propitiation (whatever that means, it’s a Friday word);
- Grace; and
In Churches of Christ each Sunday we participate in the Lord’s Supper. We do this to remember Jesus. Specifically, we sip some grape juice and nibble a cracker because Jesus told us, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Lk 22:19) In Paul’s account of the Last Supper in 1 Cor. 11, the NIV & KJV read “this is my body broken for you.” So the emphasis of the Last/Lord’s Supper is Friday, where Jesus gave his broken body for our benefit.
I also think that for many of us Isaiah 53 has become the dominant lens through which we think about Jesus death. It’s a wonderful passage as it describes Jesus’ death and the benefits we receive from him. Psalm 22 provides a similar description of Jesus’ suffering and is even quoted by him from the cross. While we focus upon the elements of these passages that clearly connect with the cross, both Isaiah and Psalm 22 continue past the suffering to describe scenes of God’s reign and glory. Although they never directly describe resurrection, the cross is not the end of the story.
Around Easter I often hear Church of Christ members make statements like, “the world takes some time to think about Jesus death and resurrection at over Easter, but we do this every Sunday at the Lord’s Table.” Comments like that stir up a lot of emotions within me. I’m thankful for Easter. I’m thankful for Sunday. I personally spend too many Sundays thinking about Friday. It is rare for the thoughts presented with the Lord’s Supper to remind me of the resurrection. They usually bring an Isaiah 53 perspective.
We often overlook in both the Gospel accounts and Paul’s summary that at the Last Supper Jesus assumed the resurrection as he cast his vision beyond the cross to the coming Kingdom of God.
“… you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (I Cor. 11:26)
“I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (Luke 22:18)
Using the Lord’s Supper to remember Sunday’s resurrection brings a different set of words to mind. These words are optimistic and forward looking. But because of their relationship with Friday they don’t ignore or gloss over those realities of the crucifixion. I’m thinking of words like:
- New creation;
- Jesus interceding for us;
- Purpose; and
Friday needs Sunday just as Sunday doesn’t exist with Friday.
Friday is “Good”.
So is Sunday.
While both days are inextricably connected, I choose to live on Sunday looking back with gratitude and awe to Friday. Too many people, Christians and not, get stuck in the guilt and suffering of Friday so that they never truly experience the freedom of Sunday.
Let’s make sure we’re Sunday Christians!!!
…as well as Friday.