Cosmic forgiveness roots in Good Friday and EasterPublished 9:31am Friday, April 25, 2014
By the Rev. David Hernes
East Freeborn Lutheran Church
Last Sunday Christians celebrated Easter. We celebrated with early worship and breakfast at church. We had egg hunts and special candy and ham dinners. But what was the celebrating about? Easter was — and is — the celebration of the outcome of Bad Friday. And what was that outcome? Cosmic forgiveness. All sins paid for! The reversal of human destiny!
Is that really true? That staggers the mind. It seems too much!
But that is exactly what the Christian faith teaches and claims and offers. The message is so radical that we have even renamed that Friday. It was Bad Friday because that was the day we humans executed God in human flesh. Thus, it was the worst Friday ever. But on Easter Sunday, Jesus came alive again. His return to life is God’s signature of affirmation on Jesus’ sacrifice. Thus Jesus “paid in full” the list of charges that stood against us.
Let me ask, “Doesn’t that seem too big to be true, and too good to be true?”
What does our world need more than forgiveness?
What if there were no forgiveness? Could live go on, even for a day? What if we each had to pay for every sin we committed each day — and our lives couldn’t go on until we did? And in our lifetime?
The Christian message of forgiveness comes from the combined messages of Good Friday and Easter. John the Baptist called Jesus “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
To use an early example, what would be our condition if there were no garbage haulers, no systems for waste disposal? Thus in a far deeper and stronger way, Jesus is the trash man of God, who takes away the garbage of the world.
Whose sins should bother us most? Our own. Whose forgiveness should give us the greatest surprise and joy? Our own.
Who needs the message of Good Friday and Easter? I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t.
Sometimes we think forgiveness is too easy — a letting people off the hook.
Anyone who takes the crucifixion of Jesus seriously can come to no such false conclusion. Forgiveness is incredibly costly. And sooner or later, we will all get an accurate look at our lives. And sooner or later, we will have to take ownership of all that is ours.
In other words, there will not be a single person in heaven going around with a smug satisfaction that they “got away with something” — even lots. That they got to enjoy sin on earth and get to enjoy heaven as well. No one will accuse anyone else, or envy anyone else. Rather, people will greet each other with words like, “I shouldn’t even be here — and I wouldn’t be if it weren’t for the grace of God on Bad Friday and Easter.”
I like this verse from the hymn, “It is Well with My Soul” by Horatio Pafford:
My sin — O the joy of this glorious thought —
My sin, not in part, but the whole —
Is nailed to His cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the lord, praise the lord, O my soul.
Good Friday and Easter are one.