On this day before, Good Friday, I can’t not speak on the beauty of this day.
As Easter approaches… the tradition remains for so many to head to church wearing their new pastel colored frills and bow ties with sticky fingers and chocolate covered faces telling all about the gummy, gooey treats that the Easter bunny brought. Then to grandma’s for a special delivery of her cherished Easter Lily with a side of peeps. Egg hunts and Easter bunny pictures and a huge spread on the dinner table to spend time with family is what most homes do to celebrate this time of the year. All of this is good and all but are we celebrating the flowers and candy with no good reason?
As this Holy Week (as the Catholic Church refers to this week from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) comes quickly approaching it’s end, I can’t help but reflect on that very first Friday and why in the world we can call it “good”. For those closest to Jesus on this day nearly 2000 years ago it was anything but good. This was the day that Jesus was arrested, taken into custody, rushed through the court system, found guilty of NOTHING (over and over again) and still sentenced to death and crucified on a Roman cross. Not one person who loved and followed Jesus and His teachings would have considered this day good. It was tragic. The scriptures make it very clear that even Jesus’ disciples did not understand the cross and the need for His death. You see we have the benefit today, knowing what happens on Sunday! They did not. We celebrate the anniversary to Jesus’ death, remembering the sacrifices He made for His followers’ sins on that first Friday and most importantly because the story did not end with His death. Without that Good Friday, there would be no Resurrection Day! You see Jesus promised, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26). The scriptures also tell us that “the sting of death is sin” (1 Corinthians 15:56). That is exactly what Jesus’ death on that old rugged cross was all about, He paid the price for the sins of the world….(Sin is anything you do, say or think that displeases God. The world is every single man and woman since Adam)….His death defeated that sting and oh the greatest part, His resurrection made a way for us to have eternal life in glory! The greatest news that mortal ear has ever heard is the news that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, just as He promised! “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. (1 Peter 3:18).
Silly Rabbit, Easter is about Jesus! He wants us to put more confidence in His words than we do our limited and frail understanding. That is faith at its fullest. He is God and He can make a Friday filled with such treachery, deceit and death, GOOD. So as we approach this Good Friday, we observe and even celebrate His death because then came the morning!
The creation around us even celebrates and proclaims Jesus’ life, death and resurrection if we just observe it closely.
Legend Of The Dogwood:
At the time of the crucifixion, the dogwood had reached the size of the mighty oak tree. So strong and firm was the wood that it was chosen as the timber for Jesus’ cross.
To be used for such a cruel purpose really distressed the dogwood. While nailed upon it, Jesus sensed this, and in his compassion said, “Because of your pity for my suffering, never again shall the dogwood tree grow large enough to be used for a cross. Henceforth, it shall be slender, bent, and twisted and its blossoms shall be in the form of a cross – two long and two short petals.
“In the center of the outer edge of each petal will be the print of nails. In the center of the flower, stained with blood, will be a crown of thorns so that all who see it will remember.”
Another is the Legend Of The Pine Tree:
Did you know that even pine trees know when it’s Easter?
Pine trees start their new growth in the weeks before Easter. If you look at the tops of the pine trees two weeks before, you’ll see the yellow shoots. As the days get close to Easter Sunday, the tallest shoot will branch off and form a cross. By the time Easter Sunday comes around, you will see that most of the pine trees will have small yellow crosses on all of the tallest shoots.
This is just one way that God let’s us know that He is real, that He is with us, and that He sent His son to die for us so that we may have everlasting life.
And also the Legend Of The Donkey:
Mary rode a donkey to Bethlehem where the Christ child was born. Then fast forward time, thirty-three years later Jesus rode a donkey into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, which was a fulfilled prophecy spoken 500 years before the Messiah would ride a donkey into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:5 and Zechariah 9:9).
From this came a legend of the donkey’s cross. The little donkey that had been Jesus’ mount on Palm Sunday, came to the hill of Calvary. Seeing the tragic event occurring there he wished with all his heart he had been able to carry the cross for Jesus as he was the proper one to carry heavy burdens. The donkey turned his back on the sight, but he could not leave because he wished to stay until all was over because of his love for Jesus. In reward, the Lord caused the shadow of the cross to fall across the back of the donkey. It’s also said that the leg stripes were received from walking through the palm branches that were laid in it’s path in honor of the burden the donkey was carrying.
One fascinating fact is how during the Middle Ages, Europeans used hairs from the cross on a donkey as folk remedies to cure illness.
And while you’re sharing the Easter Story legends now, you could grab the kids up to make The Tomb Is Empty treats!
Peanut Butter (or icing if you have allergy)
Small Chocolate Doughnuts
Mini Oreo Cookies
Green Food Coloring
First take your shredded coconut and place it in a sandwich baggie. Drip a few drops of green food coloring in, and shake the bag until your coconut turns green.
Next, cut off the bottom of your chocolate doughnuts, leaving you the arch shape to stand for the open tomb.
Now spread peanut butter (or icing) on the graham cracker and stick the doughnut “tomb” in place.
Then take one mini Oreo and twist it apart. Use the side with icing on it to stick it to the front of the doughnut as the “rock” that was rolled away from the entrance of the tomb.
Sprinkle some coconut “grass” onto the remainder of the peanut butter.
So, Good Friday, was it really a good thing? I’d say “good” doesn’t begin to caress the scope of its grandeur.