It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming. That’s the title of an Easter sermon American author, Tony Campolo, heard preached by an old African-American pastor in his home church in west Philadelphia.
Campolo writes, “He started his sermon very softly by saying, “It was Friday – – it was Friday and my Jesus was on the tree. But that was Friday, and Sunday’s comin’!”
One of the Deacons yelled, “Preach, brother, Preach!” It was all the encouragement he needed. He came on LOUDER as he said, “It was Friday and Mary was cryin’ her eyes out. The disciples were runnin’ in every direction, like sheep without a shepherd, but that was Friday, and Sunday’s comin!”
The preacher kept going. He picked up the volume still more and shouted, “It was Friday. And on Friday Pilate thought he had washed his hands of a whole lotta trouble. The Pharisees were struttin’ around, laughin’ and pokin’ each other in the ribs. They thought they were back in charge a’ things. But they didn’t know it was only Friday! Sunday’s comin’!
Friday, them forces that oppress the poor and keep people down, them forces that destroy people, them forces in control now, them forces that are gonna rule, they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. Friday, people are saying, ‘Darkness is gonna rule the world; sadness is gonna be everywhere,’ but they don’t know it’s only Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’. …
Campolo said, “He kept on working that one phrase for a half hour, then an hour, then an hour and a half. Over and over he came at us, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s comin!” By the time he had come to the end of the message – -he had me and everybody else so worked up that I don’t think any of us could have stood it much longer. At the end of his message he just yelled at the top of his lungs, `It’s FRIDAY!’ and all 500 of us in that church yelled back with one accord, ‘But Sunday’s comin’”.
It’s the of dawn. We’re at the start of Jn 20. The WORST day of the disciples’ lives is past. But the BEST day is just beginning.
And it’s going to turn out JUST LIKE JESUS HAD SAID IT WOULD. He’d said it back in ch 16 v19.
‘In a little while you will SEE ME NO MORE, and THEN after a little while/ you WILL see me’? 20 I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, BUT YOUR GRIEF WILL TURN TO JOY.
It’s Friday, but Sunday’s COMING. Then he gives an illustration of grief turning to joy. Ch 16:21-22
21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: NOW is your time of GRIEF, but I will see you again and you will REJOICE, and no one will take away your joy.
The grief is BEARABLE because you know there’s JOY at the end. It’s PAIN with a PURPOSE. That’s what the midwives always say.
When the pain’s OVER, and mum’s got her brand new baby in her arms, she pretty soon FORGETS the anguish. (Caron always says it’s JUST AS WELL women forget the pain of labour, otherwise no one would ever have a SECOND baby.)
Joy replaces grief. Delight replaces pain. Laughter replaces tears.
And Jesus promises back in ch 16/ that’s the way it’s going to work with HIS IMPENDING . It’s the promise that when Friday’s GONE, don’t forget that Sunday’s comin’.
Mary Magdalene – grief turns to joy
Verse 1 of ch 20. Early Sunday morning, We see it with Mary Magdalene. Grief turns to JOY. She arrives at Jesus’ tomb. But instead of finding an armed guard and a sealed tomb, there’s only the gaping black hole of the tomb with the stone rolled away.
She fetches Peter and John. They go in and find the grave clothes lying on the ground. Like a typical ager’s room. But the headcloth’s neatly folded by itself, separate from the rest (v7). Like someone’s simply woken up from a good night’s sleep, got undressed, and carefully folded his pyjamas and put them on his pillow.
Which is, sort of, what happened.
And when those two run back to town to tell the REST of the disciples, Mary’s left on her own, outside the tomb, weeping. She’s numb. Shocked, grieving, distressed, paralysed with uncertainty. Her world’s been turned on its head. Verse 11.
As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
The angels asked why she was crying. A very good question! After all, this was SUNDAY! She should have remembered Jesus’ promise. That in a little while her GRIEF would be turned to JOY. She should have remembered that Friday’s GONE, but that Sunday’s HERE. Verse 14.
14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 “Woman,” he said, “why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
She simply wanted to find Jesus’ BODY. But Jesus had something much better in mind. He was BACK, Living, breathing, TRANSFORMED – better than ever.
She was thinking FRIDAY. But Jesus was there because it was SUNDAY.
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” 18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.
Her grief was turned to joy. Just like Jesus had said. had been turned into life. Hopelessness into hope. Defeat into victory. Friday had become Sunday.
The disciples – fear turns to peace and joy
Next up. The disciples. Friday’s FEAR turns to Sunday’s joy and peace.
They KNOW Jesus is alive. But they can’t get their heads around it. Peter and John have told them. Mary’s told them. But that night, they’re still cowering behind locked doors FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS.
But that’s FRIDAY-thinking. And today’s SUNDAY. V19.
Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
Fear and doubt becomes PEACE and JOY. Hopelessness and despair becomes purpose and power. Just like Jesus had promised. Because Friday’s GONE. And Sunday’s HERE.
Thomas – doubt turns to belief
Next up, Thomas. For some reason he wasn’t there that Sunday night. The others say, We’ve seen the Lord”. But he just folds his arms.
“Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
He preferred to keep God in a box. Measurable and predictable. He actually preferred despair and doubt and defeat to the alternative. Would rather have a comfortable, controllable world than one where his expectations and plans were exploded like a saucepan of popcorn with the lid left off.
But that was FRIDAY-thinking, and Sunday had come.
He’d forgotten Jesus’ promise that for A TIME they’d GRIEVE, but that SOON their grief would turn to JOY that no one could take away. V26.
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” 28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Thomas’ DOUBT is turned to BELIEF. His fear to peace. His grief into JOY.
Us – doubt and turns to belief and blessing
And Jesus has a word for US TOO. V29. Friday’s DOUBT and turn to Sunday’s belief and blessing.
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED.”
That’s US. His prayer is that we might BELIEVE, and be BLESSED. Even though we haven’t SEEN or TOUCHED.
And BELIEF is the whole point. John chimes in. v30
30 Jesus did many OTHER miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by BELIEVING you may have LIFE in his name.
FRIDAY was about grieving and and defeat. But Friday’s OVER. NOW, Sunday’s about JOY, and BLESSING, AND BELIEF, AND LIFE.
So, what’s YOUR Friday look like? Where do YOU need to remember that Sunday’s comin’?
Perhaps it’s chronic poor health.
Perhaps it’s a marriage that’s cold and .
Perhaps your children or grandkids want nothing to do with Jesus anymore.
Perhaps there’s a deliciously dangerous sin you can’t escape from.
Perhaps your neighbours make every waking hour a nightmare.
Perhaps it’s crippling debt, or numbing depression, or immobilizing anxiety.
What does YOUR Friday look like? It might be FRIDAY, but the message from John 20 is … that SUNDAY’S comin’. Jesus turned the disciples despair into joy that no one could take away. And it’s the same FOR YOU.
When Diane was pregnant with Max, she was crippled with terrible gallstone attacks. They were relentless. That was DESPAIR!
Finally, when Di had about a month to go until Max was due. I offered to come around with the elders, to anoint Di with oil, like it says in James 5, and to pray for her healing.
So Robert, Dean, and I were there, as well as Paul and Jenny. I’m no expert, and it always seems a strange thing to do. So, part of me is reluctant to OFFER. And I’d look a bit silly if nothing happened. But that’s FRIDAY thinking.
We read the Bible, we anointed Di with oil. We cried a bit. And we PRAYED. We prayed that God would spare Di from any more attacks. That he’d HEAL her. We praised him for the healing won by Jesus at the cross. And we prayed that Di might receive that NOW.
And from that day, until Max was born, Di didn’t have another attack! God turned despair into joy.
For a little while, there were tears, but the laughter wasn’t far away. Friday had become Sunday.
Let me give you a final example of Friday turned to Sunday. For the Cambodian church in the 1970’s there were plenty of dark Fridays. It’s estimated that 90% of Cambodian Christians died during the rule of Pol Pot.
In the book, Killing Fields, Living Fields, Don Cormack tells the moving story of the of a Christian teacher named Haim who lived in a small village on the edge of the jungle. He and his family were arrested by the soldiers, but were able to spend the night together, praying and comforting each other.
The next morning they dug their own grave and were granted a moment to prepare for their . They knelt down and cried out to God, exhorting those looking on to repent and believe the gospel.
Then Haim’s young son lost his nerve. He ran off into the forest in a last-ditch escape attempt. Haim convinced the soldiers not to go after him and instead, kneeling by his grave, called out to his son, “What comparison, my son, stealing a few more days of life in the wilderness, a fugitive, wretched and alone/ to joining your family here, momentarily around this grave, but soon around the throne of God, free forever in Paradise?” (repeat)
That’s Sunday thinking. That’s seeing the joy BEYOND the temporary despair. Joy that no one – not even – can take away.
Within a few minutes, Haim’s weeping son walked out of the jungle and rejoined his family. Haim told them they were now ready to go.
The whole family was killed, and buried in the grave they’d dug themselves. But, for them, Sunday had arrived. Free forever, joined with their Saviour. Despair turned to joy that no one could take away.
Let me finish with some words from 1 Peter 1. Words written to people going through their OWN despair and doubt, their own FRIDAY. And Peter’s WORD? Stick it out. Because Sunday’s comin’.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the , 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.