When writing my PhD many years ago, I came across a sentence from Prof. Dr. Carl Braaten on whom I did my research, describing in a few words the heart of the message of Good Friday and Easter. Braaten wrote: Without the light of the Easter morning the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth would probably have remained eclipsed forever by the blackout on Friday noon. The blackout of Friday noon is of course the moment on which Jesus Christ died on the cross.  

There are many theories about the question of what is the real purpose of the death of Christ? Some of those theories are varied with some mutually compatible, when others are very complex, but each of those theories offer a different interpretations on the death of Christ. In this jungle of different theories and theologies about why Jesus had to die on the cross, all of these are perhaps encompassed in the words of the former Archbishop of Canterbury during WWII, William Temple, who once wrote: Nothing can achieve a power at all comparable to that of the love of God unveiled in Jesus Christ, and above all in His death. There, we see what sin mean to God and how He bears it. And as we see we are won out of our selfishness to a love which answers His.  

As Braaten showed in his sentence, without the message of Easter the ministry of Jesus Christ would perhaps never even been mentioned in the history books and no one would have ever heard about Him. He then would have been like one of the many advocates for liberation from oppressing powers, or one of the freedom fighters, but without using weaponry.  Easter is only within a few days, but now at Good Friday we should already look ahead to what happened on that day. Without Easter, Good Friday can be nothing more than a day of mourning or remembrance. But, with Easter in view, the meaning of Good Friday becomes a day of looking forward to a glorious day, even when it feels a day of sobriety and sadness.  

Hans