This year, Easter and Good Friday felt a little bit different to me than in years past. I felt like God placed it on my heart to share with you my thoughts from this weekend.
First, I feel as though I need to share the sermon from our church from Sunday. It’s not your typical Easter message. I encourage you to hit play down below. Our teaching pastor, Pastor Chris Brown, is a truly gifted speaker and not your average pastor. See for yourself:
Our first weekend at North Coast Church, we heard Pastor Chris. There are currently three teaching pastors at our church and I know it was no mistake that he was there for our first service. We had been church “shopping” for a while, having a hard time finding a place to call home. We left our first Sunday morning at North Coast without a doubt in our mind that this is our new home. We left challenged, convicted, encouraged, and inspired all at the same time. If you watched the video above, you know that Pastor Chris has a way with words; he makes the Bible come to life in unprecedented ways.
Our Good Friday service was unlike any Good Friday service I had been to before. It was more of a worship and reflection service than a teaching and learning service. They showed scenes of The Passion of the Christ on the screens behind the worship band while we sang about God’s redemptive mercy and grace. The scenes were edited but the intensity and purpose behind them remained the same. I have never seen The Passion and to be honest, I’m not sure I will ever see the full film. Even though the scenes lacked the blood and gore that is the reality of what Jesus suffered and went through, I still felt myself become overwhelmed with an emotion that I cannot put into words. To be visually faced with the reality of the cross was incredibly powerful for me. Don’t get me wrong, I grew up going to church. I know what the cross is and what Jesus went through. But to know it and to know it are two different things. The first thing Nick said to me as we walked to the parking lot was, “I don’t know if I’m just getting older or if I’m beginning to understand the cross more but every year it hits me harder and harder.” I replied saying that I felt the same way. Each year, I feel like Good Friday becomes more and more real. I think it’s a combination of both things, getting older, getting wiser, but also growing closer to God and growing in our understanding of what sin is and what Jesus did in light of that.
Why is Good Friday called good? First of all, it’s only considered good in the light of Easter, it’s the victory over sin through the sacrifice of the only One who could pay our debt; it’s redemption. This is why Jesus calls out from the cross with His final breath “it is finished” which means, “it is paid in full.”
“People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
My friend actually shared that C.S. Lewis quote on Instagram and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. I think it perfectly sums up my thoughts on Good Friday, along with this John MacArthur quote down below.
“The cross is proof of both the immense love of God and the profound wickedness of sin.”
― John MacArthur
Every year, as I begin to understand the pain and suffering of the cross more and more, it also makes the triumph of Easter that much more exciting in my eyes! I cannot imagine what it would have been like on that third day, the first Easter morning when they discovered the stone was rolled away.
Pastor Chris mentions in the sermon that the Easter Bunny has stolen Jesus and thus our Easter away. How accurate that is; this beautiful holiday that is the celebration of the ultimate sacrifice and victory over death at the same time has been turned into a commercial holiday about candy and chocolate. How crazy is that?
This idea of freewill and the idea that God doesn’t force His hand with us blows my mind sometimes. Pastor Chris mentioned in the sermon that one of the scariest things about the Easter story is that He will let you walk in and walk out of it completely unchanged. God will allow it to be just another holiday to you, that’s the whole idea of freewill.
Which of the four crowds in the sermon do you fall under? Are you part of the story or are you part of the vast majority in the crowd who are unheard of? Are you there for the holiday as a bystander or as a participant? Does the Easter story change your life?
That hit me. Does this story actually change my everyday life? Do I live every day in the power of the resurrection and the freedom that Christ has given me? Or is this just another holiday and an excuse to buy a new dress?
“The cross is what forgives me; the empty tomb is what gives me power.”
-Pastor Chris Brown
I challenge you to listen to this sermon, I already have plans to rewatch it later this week, and I hope it helps you think about your own thoughts on Easter. It’s not just another holiday, for He has risen! And that is something to celebrate not just on Easter but every other day as well.