We tend to think of “Good” Friday as the agony of defeat before Easter’s thrill of victory.
One of the most memorable sermons I’ve heard was Tony Campolo’s message on “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’.”
Campolo attended a black church in west Philadelphia because he liked the music and the preaching, and because it was the only church in his predominately black neighbourhood.
On occasion he would get to preach, and for a young preacher, it was a very encouraging atmosphere.
If he was on a roll, the men would shout “c’mon, preach, preach it brother”.
And the ladies would wave one hand in the air, usually with a hanky, and say, “well”, “that’s right”.
Even if he wasn’t doing so well, they’d let him know, like the time a large lady stood up at the back and shouted, “help him Jesus.”
On this particular Good Friday service, Campolo was preaching first (before the senior pastor’s turn) and he was doing great. The guys were shouting “c’mon” and the ladies were waving their hankies, and when he was done, the crowd broke into applause and dancing.
Campolo sat down beside the senior pastor and said, “how was that old man, not bad huh?”
The elder pastor patted his knee with a little smirk on his face and said, “not bad, son, not bad, but it’s time for you to sit back and learn.”
He then proceeded to preach one line for 45 minutes: “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’”
“It’s Friday, and my Jesus is dead on a tree. But that’s Friday – Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, Mary’s crying her eyes out, the disciples are running in every direction like sheep without a shepherd. But that’s Friday – Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, some are looking at the world and saying, ‘As things have been, so shall they always be. You can’t change nothing in this world.’ But they didn’t know that it was only Friday, and Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, them forces that oppress God’s people, that keep ‘em down, scared, and passive, them forces that are gonna rule now that Jesus is gone, they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’.”
Great sermon – one problem. Without Good Friday, there is no Easter Sunday. The majority of the 330 prophecies of the Messiah focus on the crucifixion. Psalm 22, written 1,000 years before Christ, predicts his words on the cross: “my God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
It describes the jeering crowd mocking Him, hurling insults, piercing His hands and feet, leaving his bones unbroken, and gambling for His robe.
Isaiah 53, written 700 years before Christ, predicts a suffering Saviour, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, taking upon himself our infirmities, being pierced for our transgressions, being crushed for our iniquities, taking our punishment upon himself, and healing us by His wounds.
Without that sacrifice as payment in full for our forgiveness, the promise of Easter would be meaningless.
With that said, remember: “It’s only Friday – Sunday’s a comin’.
Rob Buzza is lead pastor at NorthRidge Church.