Summary of Maryann's Thoughts: She was basically questioning why Jesus had to die the way he did. Why God would choose such a death as necessary to His master plan. She also said a lot about how we are supposed to feel in church, but especially on Easter/Good Friday (which is tomorrow). Are we supposed to feel guilty for His death, and then super excited for his life? The roller coaster of emotions Easter Weekend tends to take us through I think sound a bit overwhelming and overused. I can't blame her. But I do think there are some answers out there (not necessarily perfect answers, but partial answers at least). Below is my feeble attempt to respond to her post with my own thoughts, largely that came to me this morning as I was thinking about the upcoming "holidays"...
Ok, so I was thinking about what you wrote this morning. I could never begin to have an answer to all your questions, but I have had some of the same ones. Here are just a few thoughts.
I think an "ultimate sacrifice" kind of death was used by God in Jesus at the time because it was what would make the most sense to the Jews and to those Gentiles who understood Jewish law. God originally laid down this law of sacrifice for sins to help Jews (and thereby the whole world) understand their own shortcomings, and come clean before their Creator, who desired better for them. When God confirmed that this law was no longer really accomplishing this goal, I think He knew it was time to fulfill the law. To come and complete what He began with Abraham and Moses.
In fulfilling the law through Jesus, He also showed us the ultimate type of love - a self-sacrificing servant love that provided the sacrifice-to-end-all-sacrifices by basically making himself the lamb... Not only does this show us how loved we are, and our importance to our Creator, but it also shows us how to love in return.
Good Friday should not be about us feeling guilty for making Christ die - no one made him die, or even asked him to, for our sins. The beauty is it is a FREE gift, like you said. I think I become sad when I realize that I have not mirrored the love he came to show in living out my own life. Day to day, I choose myself over others so often, that I ignore the way Jesus showed us love.
My favorite "good friday" song is When I Survey The Wondrous Cross (not the new version, but the old hymn version) because the last lines are "Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all." I cry every single time I sing that, because I know that I am still so far from giving all of that up to God. So...all that to say, Good Friday should not be a time for us to wallow in our sin that hung Jesus on a gruesome cross...but to experience once again the challenge Jesus gives us to live differently. To live sacrificially because its the ultimate way of communicating love, and of responding to the way he loves us.
And Easter? I think Easter is a time to celebrate Life. To celebrate that our collection of earthly experiences, our guest appearance on earth is not the end. That Christ promises us eternal life and showed us physically that this is not the end. It can get really depressing to think that of the millions of years Earth is here, we are here for a tiny fraction of it...we are but a breath. Yet, God says no...you matter more to me than a breath, you are made of stuff that is more lasting than that. I will one day call you home, where you will find your deepest longings fulfilled and your experiences from earth only magnified. Easter is a time to celebrate that we are more than just a passing wind, like Solomon laments in Ecclesiastes. That we, like Jesus, get to rise again. Because of a God who loves us more than we understand or deserve.
As far as emotions in church go, I don't think we should base our relationship with God on how we connect or don't connect emotionally in a given church service. I know my sister is a very emotional being, and that its probably impossible to separate her relationship with God from her emotions (and I don't know that she should), but it is dangerous to assume that because we do not feel the sadness of Good Friday or the joy of Easter, that our faith is slipping or somehow less than it should be.
Whether or not we like it, as grown, intellectual human beings, sometimes we get bogged down with the schematics of Holy Week ...the theologies of what what we are mourning & then celebrating. I think this can be both very important and very stifling in our faith journey. It can be much harder to have faith like a child when you are asking questions like "Why did God plan it this way?" or "Should I feel guilty that God sent Jesus to die on a cross when I never asked Him to and he's Omnipotent and I'm not, so He should have figured out a better way if it sucked so much for Jesus?" We can't ignore these questions once they arise...at the same time, we also must learn how to live with some mystery. If mystery wasn't involved, neither would faith be.
There is a song that says "There will be a day where there is no more hope and no more faith" (or something like that)...meaning, we will KNOW and therefore hope and faith will not be needed. Until then, to have faith, we can wrestle with these questions, we can come up with partial answers and theories, but the end of the day brings the same central question: Do you trust the God you claim to believe in? If the answer is yes, you may not understand why or how He did all of what He did, but you can TRUST that it was right, and that we can celebrate Him on Easter, and on Good Friday, and on every other day, because we still have faith that He is ultimately Good.
Thanks for letting me post your post :) I love you sis!