Tonight and tomorrow we pause to remember the unfathomable sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. We are right to ponder his suffering and desolation, but we must not get stuck there.
Karl Barth warned that we must not fixate on the cross “like the ox which is bound to a stake and, driven by the owner’s whip, has to trot round and round turning the wheel” (CD IV/1, 345). We must not live in Good Friday, but on the other side of Easter morning.
Barth says we must repudiate “all theologies or pieties or exercises or aesthetics which center on the cross—however grimly in earnest they may be…. We must understand clearly what such a going back involves. It involves going back to the night of Golgotha as not yet lit up by the light of Easter Day. It involves going back and into the event of judgment not yet proclaimed and revealed as that of salvation. It involves going back into the sphere where the divine Yes to man which He Himself alone can reveal is still inaccessibly concealed under His No. It involves going back into the death in which all flesh is hopelessly put to death in and with the Son of God…. As though we had to begin again at the place where He made an end for us and of us!” (CD IV/1, 344).
We need both the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be saved. But we must never forget their order, and on which side of the sequence we are living. We must not make our home in sorrow, as if the point of being a Christian is to learn how to feel sorry for Jesus. We must die with Christ, but only so we can rise with him. We’re not Good Friday Christians. We belong to Easter.
Photo by Pict-your. Used by permission. Sourced via Flickr.