Blessed Good Friday – The Middle Eastern Party Store Owner Gets It! by Pr. Rossow

For years I have been exchanging Christian blessings and conversation with the party store owner in our neighborhood. (“Party store” is a Michigan term for “convenience store” that I picked up during my seven years there.) He attends a local ethnic protestant Bible church. I have noticed over the years that the theology he confesses is mixed with a bit of triumphalism with a touch of “name it and claim it.” Today however, he made the good – Good Friday confession.

He has always focussed on Jesus but today he really nailed it and surprised me a bit given his tendency toward the theology of glory. It surprised me but it was also a great blessing and a great way to start this holy day.

As a sign that this was going to be more than our usual exchange of a few words of Christian piety, when I stopped at the register to check out, unlike our typical exchange, he began by reaching across the counter and shook my hand vigorously overflowing with blessings from Jesus.

The next words out of his mouth surprised me. After I wished him a blessed Holy Week he responded with “This is a great day because I am chief of sinners.” We then kibbitzed a bit about who is the worse sinner, he or I, while quoting St. Paul to each other.

I then mentioned how many Christians don’t always get the significance of Good Friday. He then said “Today is the day my Lord Jesus laid down his life for my sins.” It was a real blessing to hear him speak of the centrality of Christ crucified.

Hearing his humble confession of sin and his confession of Christ crucified, I thought I might go for the trifecta and so I said to him, “It is refreshing to hear you extol Good Friday. Many Christians think Easter is the big day.” His response: “No, this is the best day. I am chief of sinners.”

He gets it. The middle eastern party store owner gets it. May you too have a blessed best day of the year.

About Pastor Tim Rossow

Rev. Dr. Timothy Rossow is the Director of Development for Lutherans in Africa. He served Bethany Lutheran Church in Naperville, IL as the Sr. Pastor for 22 years (1994-2016) and was Sr. Pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran in Dearborn, MI prior to that. He is the founder of Brothers of John the Steadfast but handed off the Sr. Editor position to Rev. Joshua Scheer in 2015. He currently resides in Ocean Shores WA with his wife Phyllis. He regularly teaches in Africa. He also paints watercolors, reads philosophy and golfs. He is currently represented in two art galleries in the Pacific Northwest. His M Div is from Concordia, St. Louis and he has an MA in philosophy from St. Louis University and a D Min from Concordia, Fort Wayne.

Comments

Blessed Good Friday – The Middle Eastern Party Store Owner Gets It! by Pr. Rossow — 10 Comments

  1. I thought Easter WAS the big day?

    If Jesus stayed dead, then Good Friday would be insignificant, no?

  2. Thank you for this post, Pr. Rossow. It put a smile on my face. Today is a wonderful day for us chief sinners. Sunday will be glorious!

  3. Tim, tonight I will be preaching on Hosea 6:1-6. In the context of the rest of Hosea, I read the people’s words in verses 1-3 as shallow and cynical, taking the grace of God for granted, not appreciating the significance of the prophetic words given them. Your anecdote provides a refreshing counter point illustration. thanks.

  4. Something about such happy and sometimes unexpected exchanges out in the wild is very heartening!

    I have almost heard some of our pastors almost deprecate Easter, of course elevating Good Friday. When I thought I heard this, it didn’t seem right. Is it Scriptural? Or are we not to take them both together and never pit one against the other? Are we sometimes just reacting to the professional (not accidental) theologians of glory?

  5. MBW,

    You make a good point. They are not to be pitted against each other but just because I say the Cubs are better than the Mariners (sorry Jim) does not mean I am pitting them against each other.

    Good Friday and Easter are one piece for sure and are not to be seperated. However, to make a theological point about the centrality of the cross and the fact that we preach Christ crucified, the “gun to the head” test is helpful.

    If you put a gun to my head and ask me to choose one or the other I choose Good Friday because that is when my sins are forgiven and it is sin and sin alone that keeps me from life and salvation. As St. Paul says, the power of death is sin.

  6. Good Friday is where our sins are forgiven and we can be alive to what happens on Easter and rejoice in the Savior’s resurrection. This is the day I count myself so unworthy of such a sacrifice and yet can hardly believe it was done, for all of us. This is the day that brings tears to my eyes just as Easter brings hope to my heart. Good Friday is the day God fulfilled “and God so loved the world, He gave His only begotton Son….” I never want to forget that.

    As a child I would take small sticks and weave them together into 3 crosses with strands of tall grass. I’d put them in the ground and that would become my “holy place” where I would lay on my stomach and put myself back then, back there, and try to understand what Jesus had done.

    As an adult, I go to my adult “holy place”, the church, and do much the same in hymns and prayers. We’ll never fully understand how much God loved us that He gladly condescended to become man and not only die, but humbly accept the punishment for sins He never committed – all for love. That’s what makes Good Friday so Good.

  7. When Saturday as the Sabbath lost its place of prominence, why did the Church select Sunday as the Lord’s Day, and not Friday?

    (Ooh, pitting the death against the resurrection reminds me of the false dichotomy of pitting doctrine against mission!)

  8. Lutheran Emily,

    As I responded to mbw – we do not pit the two against each other but that does not mean that they aren’t for different ends.

    Consider how the Scriptures speak.

    The Corinthians had a problem with the theology of glory, one manifestation of which is touting Easter over Good Friday and/or promoting the empty cross over the crucifix.

    Paul addresses this issue in several places with the Corinthians. In chapter 1 he says that we preach Christ crucified. If Easter were the big day, he would have said we preach Christ raised from the dead. We certainly do preach that but it is not as essential as preaching Christ crucified. When Paul chooses to give us the most esential expression of the Gospel he says “Christ crucified” and not “Christ raised.” (BTW – consider the other essential Gospel expression – John 3:16. There it is said that God “gave” his Son. The giving is on the cross. The ressurection is an exclamation point.)

    In I Cor. 15:3 Paul again gives us the essential Gospel and to our question, he mentions both the death and the ressurection. Notice that he says he he died for our sins and then simply mentions that he was buried and raised. Those are essential parts of the Gospel but Paul says “he died for our sins.”

    Now later in that same chapter he says that if Christ is not raised our faith is in vain and we are still in our sins. Notice carefully that he does not get raised for our forgiveness. Notice also that if you read the entire paragraph you can see that Paul is worried that if he is preaching Christ’s ressurection and it is a lie, then the whole Gospel is lost because we are liars. Also, I beleive Paul is talking here about the ressurection in the sense of Romans 6. In baptism we are buried with Christ and raised up to new life. In that sense Paul is saying that our faith is in vain if we do lose the ressurection becasuse then we are not raised to triumph over sin.

    So, I am confident saying that Good Friday is the bigger day of two big and essential days for the Gospel. It is when our sins were payed for. The ressurection is the exclamation point.

  9. Friday isn’t “Good” without Sunday. Sunday is nonsensical without Friday. It’s all the Pascha (and don’t leave out Thursday!).

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