A Guest Post by David Schuchardt
This is the twelfth in a series of posts engaging with the sermons in Leaps of Faith: Sermons from the Edge. This post is a reflection upon a Good Friday sermon entitled “A Tale of Two Jesuses” (pp. 116-124). The Scriptural texts for the sermon were Matthew 27:11-26 and Isaiah 52:13-53:12.
“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” are the disappointing words I have heard too often on Good Friday. We Christians do not do very well with the cross. I remember hearing Victor Shepherd at Tyndale Seminary caricaturize the evangelical attitude towards Good Friday on several occasions by saying, “Jesus just had a bad day, but he got over it!” Unfortunately, this caricature is true—we do not want to focus on the cross. We like victory, we like resurrection, and we want the vindication. As a result, we not only neglect the cross on Good Friday, we push it out of our field of vision most Sundays as well.
This is no surprise. As I’ve heard Rob remark in other contexts, the cross continues to be a scandal and an offense to all people. Let’s face it, this is the one scandal that will not sell in our culture. The cross is the supreme obstacle for the market-driven church. For this reason, churches suffering from dwindling numbers and decreasing cultural influence are often tempted to abandon the cross for something that more immediately connects with the wants and desires of the people around us. The cross and the God who hangs there is pushed aside and a generic god who exists to underwrite my desires and grant me a better life rushes in to fill the vacuum.
Of course, what this version of religion ignores is what Rob’s sermon keeps front and center; the greatest need of the human person is to be reconciled to the true and living God. Moreover, it is only the cross of Jesus which has the power to actually and effectively deal with our problem of sin, which is why Rob can pray “May we all be sprinkled by the blood of the Lamb.” He knows the most relevant thing for our world is to have the cleansing blood of the covenant poured over us and our children. In effect his sermon reverses the old saying, “Gladly Sunday’s coming, but thank God it’s Friday!”
David Schuchardt is Lead Pastor of Northview Community Church in Regina, Saskatchewan.