Good Friday and Easter set themselves as pivotal
dates on the Christian calendar. I say “pivotal” because all that we–as
Christians–hope and believe hinge upon the events commemorated on these days.
But then, does it seem strange that we don’t know exactly
when they happened?
I know that many people put great emphasis on
getting the details of Jesus arrest, trial, death and resurrection correct. We
know that they happened between the years 30 to 33 AD, but it is impossible to
pin down, beyond all doubt, the exact year.
Most orthodox Christians accept that Jesus was
crucified on a Friday. However, others insist it was a Wednesday, and some
calculate Thursday. Then there are arguments over whether he was in the tomb
for three days and three nights or just parts of those days.
Some believe we should not celebrate the Orthodox
Christian days at all, insisting that the Old Testament Passover observance is the
only correct way to remember Jesus’ sacrifice.
But, is it really so important to know exactly when
these things happened? I don’t mean to suggest the details are not significant.
The Bible makes it clear that God carefully orchestrated the events of Jesus’
last week so that prophecies of the Messiah could be fulfilled. But there is some
ambiguity in the scriptural record.
Writers in the first century did not record events
with the same precision that we expect today, so some questions about the
timing of events cannot be resolved conclusively. What was most important to
them was what happened, not when.
That should also be our focus today. If, about 2000
years ago, Jesus was executed, and then later resurrected, the destiny of every
human being has been changed forever. If this had not occurred then, as Paul
wrote to the Corinthians, “our preaching is useless and so is your
faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). But Paul reminded his readers that because of Jesus’
resurrection, death had been “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54).
“O death, where
is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” he wrote.
(1 Corinthians 15:55)
Death is an enemy, and we still feel some of its
sting when a loved one dies, or when we see innocent people murdered. The
great, over arching promise of Good Friday and Easter Sunday is that Jesus has
conquered this enemy.
God orchestrated these events so that they
fulfilled the specific prophecies of the Messiah. The writers of the Gospels
wanted us to know that this happened.
Let’s remind ourselves of this, wherever, whenever
and however we commemorate our Savior’s death and resurrection.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.