Happy Good Friday to you! Yes, Happy Good Friday. I know many of us don't always think of it that way, we may not even think of it as being very good. Maybe this day for you has been about walking around with a heaviness or quietness, soaking in the weight of the cross and reveling in the sufferings of Christ. I think we ought to have sobriety about ourselves on this day but it's not just about feeling bad about what happened on the cross because I think there's something much deeper and good about Good Friday.
So what's so good about Good Friday?
First, let's turn to the New Testament, Ephesians 1:7-10:
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."
He talks about redemption and forgiveness, which is at the heart of what Good Friday is about, but he goes even deeper. He says that this event is a part of God's plan, that in the fullness of time, Christ would gather up all things into Himself. The NIV calls it "unity". This word in Greek is something like 19 letters long, this verb we use, to sum up under, but it's been translated as "recapitulate". It seems like a strange and mysterious idea, and I think by turning to Beethoven for a moment, we can discover something about what it might mean.
Recapitulate is an important word if you're talking about Beethoven because he has these great symphonies, the most famous of which is No. 5. It's got that famous four-note theme, "DUN DUN DUN DUN". The first movement is broken up into three parts: The exposition, where this theme is introduced for the first time in all its majesty. The exposition is followed by a development section, where that melody gets pulled apart, mutated, transformed, broken down, and distorted. Finally, at the end of this development section, we hear a single oboe line while the music breathes its last breath, and then... the recapitulation.
The recapitulation is where after the death and chaos of the development section, the instability of it all, is recapitulated. All of the death and instability is brought together and given a new life, transformed and unveiled for us in a new and transcendent way. Minor shifts to major, and at the end we hear the triumph and declaration of what we had at the beginning, that was innocence lost. This is the story of Christ in musical form.
Lastly, I want to share a statement of Irenaeus of Lyon, who was an early Church father. He was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. I like to think he was very near to Christ because of what he's received almost directly from the inheritance of the apostles. He talks about the cross and it's connection to the story of Christ, from the beginning of the world to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, their fall, and the chaos and destruction that ensued to new life, and a recapitulation in Christ. He explains that what Christ does on the cross is a summing up of our whole story, the whole story of humanity is coming to a head in Him and given a new life.
Irenaeus says, "For by summing up in Himself the whole human race from the beginning to the end, He has also summed up its death. From this it is clear that the Lord suffered death, in obedience to His Father, upon that day on which Adam died while he disobeyed God. Now he died on the same day in which he ate. For God said, In that day on which you shall eat of it, you shall die by death. Lord, therefore, recapitulating in Himself this day, underwent His sufferings upon the day preceding the Sabbath, that is, the sixth day of the creation, on which day man was created; thus granting him a second creation by means of His passion, which is that [creation] out of death."
Good Friday is not just about Christ's death. It's about our death as well, the death we all die as fallen human beings. But in that death, there is a new creation, a recapitulating of all humanity, redeemed and transformed by Christ. That is what we have to look forward to today on Good Friday and as we look towards Easter. That fulfillment of what was done on the cross in Christ's death, and the resurrection life that we have to look forward to that we can take hold of ourselves even today.
So, Happy Good Friday to you. Be blessed.