We need Easter, but we need Maundy Thursday and Good Friday too.
When I was young, I didn’t like Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It was uncomfortable to hear how the innocent Son of God suffered, especially knowing it was because of my sins.
I wanted a different end to the story. Like a television courtroom drama, there should have been a defense lawyer who would refute the phony charges and poke holes in the accusations. Perhaps he would have put Jesus on the stand and have him perform a miracle for Herod. That would have shut the mouths of the mockers. Maundy Thursday and Good Friday shouldn’t have happened. Jesus was innocent!
But then I got older, and I listened in awe as the holy Son of God allowed those events to unfold and he journeyed to the cross for me and every sinner. I sang solemn hymns with tears in my eyes. I still wished it did not have to happen this way, but I was so grateful it happened and overwhelmed by the price Jesus had to pay.
Then came the March my youngest daughter was born. We laughed at her good timing. She was born on the Wednesday of Holy Week; my doctor could attend choir practice that evening, and we didn’t have to worry about missing Easter Sunday. I was in the hospital Thursday and Friday that year. I didn’t make it to the evening services.
Without the arrest in the garden, without the false testimonies and sham trials, without the beatings, without the suffering on the cross, there would be no Easter.
But on Sunday morning, I was up bright and early and, together with my husband, brought our older children and new baby to church to celebrate the Festival of Easter.
“He’s risen,” the pastor began.
“He’s risen indeed. Alleluia,” the congregation replied.
It was bright and sunny, the whole altar was covered with lilies, but somehow it failed to impress. I was not thrilled by the news of Christ’s rising. Risen, risen from what? my sleep-deprived brain seemed to ask.
That’s when I realized the value in remembering the path Christ took to get to Easter. The writer of Hebrews says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (9:22). Without the arrest in the garden, without the false testimonies and sham trials, without the beatings, without the suffering on the cross, there would be no Easter.
Jesus himself explained this to the Emmaus disciples as they walked together that first Easter evening. “ ‘Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:26,27).
Christ came to fulfill what the prophets foretold in order that you and I can call heaven our home. Jesus had to keep the whole law and fulfill every prophecy, and not just the pretty parts about being born in Bethlehem or his triumphant ride into Jerusalem. He did the hard parts too—hard parts like Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53.
That’s what Maundy Thursday and Good Friday are about: fulfilling those prophecies and paying the price for the sins of the whole world. Easter? Easter just confirms that his saving work was completed. Paul says in Romans 4:25, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”
The truth is we need Easter, but we need Maundy Thursday and Good Friday too. We can’t have one without the others. Thank God it is so!
Author: Shelly Hahm
Volume 107, Number 04
Issue: April 2020