Good Friday and Easter Sunday are like the covers of a book. They are substantial covers, enclosing a message of great import. For within this book is the sum and substance of the human race, and of the life and mission of Jesus of Nazareth. And it ends as we all like stories to end, with the observation that he/she lived happily ever after.
Though His life involved many marvelous incidents and stories, the very heart and soul of what the 33 years of Jesus’ life accomplished is captured in the brief three day period from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. Those three days capture the depth and the height of Jesus’ mission here on earth. For Good Friday closes the story on what Jesus had been about during His thirty three years among us, combating the power of evil, and Easter Sunday opens the door on a new life lying ahead.
The past on which the Good Friday event closes the door was badly in need of repair and redemption. It covered a long period of time, eons, in fact, during much of which the human race struggled to survive amid catastrophic events. A small part of this vast time period was addressed in the Bible, in that section to which we refer as the Old Testament, or the Hebrew Scriptures. We are aware of the prominent part played by sin in this long time period, almost from the very beginning. Indeed, were we to eliminate all those sections of this early part of the bible centering around sinful events, we would be left with a very small book, indeed. Admittedly, the finger of God was active and apparent throughout this long period, with great men and women periodically enhancing the pages of history enshrined there. But, for the most part, there was more bad news than good news during this time.
But when Jesus emerged within this period, a page was turned in bible history, and darkness began to recede before the light. He led a life that was a page-turner in the bible, as it began to shine with a new light penetrating, and, eventually, obliterating the darkness. For He came to deal with the sin issue head on; of course, He also came because He loved us, but there was a certain urgency in His coming, given the worsening condition into which we seemed to be falling, because of our sins. So “He died on the cross for our sins” (Rm 5.8). It is especially that death on Good Friday, capturing the essence of what Jesus’ life had been about, that forms the front cover of “the book”, whose latter part is the Good News associated with the New Testament centering on the Paschal Mystery, centering on Holy Week. It was at this time that all the unsavory elements of our human history come to a resolution during the three days from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.
For what happened on Easter Sunday starts history over again. It is the great version of: “they lived happily ever after”. This forms the back cover of the book. For it celebrates a new beginning, associated with the remarkable event of Easter Sunday, when Christ rose from the dead, and started a new page of human history, the Christian story. That totally inverts the trajectory of our human race, from downward to upward, with its focus on good news that overshadows the bad news, relegating it to the front of the book.
So the bible ends much better than it begins, at least so far as the human race is concerned. That is why we speak of the Good News. It is the empty tomb refulgent with the light of the Risen Christ, a far cry from the battered corpse of the dead Christ hanging on the cross. The three days from Good Friday to Easter Sunday have changed the history of the world. Good Friday closed the Book of Life with its ugliness, and Easter Sunday rewrote it in beautiful script. That three day period ushered in a new and welcome story.