I was listening to my iPod on shuffle this evening as I was making dinner for myself this Good Friday, and ironically one of the songs that came up was Shane & Shane’s “Born to Die,” off of their Christmas album. I almost changed the song (because I am adamant about only listening to Christmas music between Thanksgiving and Christmas, New Years at the latest), but I stopped when the lyrics mentioned “Good Friday” — and I thought it might be fit to listen to the rest.
Now, typically I am a die hard fan of Shane & Shane and love all of their music and lyrics (which come straight from Scripture so often) — I have been listening to their latest (“Everything Is Different”) non-stop for the past few months. But now that I think about it, this is one song of theirs that I’m not so sure I fully agree with the main message. I can’t say that the theology of the song is off right now (because I haven’t really studied the idea in depth), but I do think their emphasis may be a bit misleading.
The idea of the song is that we need to remember that Jesus was “Born to Die,” as the refrain will continue to repeat. The first verse of the song is:
When the babe was born.
In a manger on the hay.
God saw a veil torn.
He saw Good Friday.
He was born to die.
I really like the song, but I have to ask myself — is the purpose clause at the end true? Was Jesus born to die? And is that the only reason He was born? I don’t think it’s wrong to say that Jesus was born to die — but, if we stop there, then we’ve missed the whole story. We haven’t gotten all of what Jesus did.
But I’m afraid that’s what we tend to do too often. We share the gospel by saying, “We are sinful and deserve hell, but Jesus died for you so that you can go to heaven.” We hear all the time: “Jesus died for your sins!” and “Jesus loves you and died for you!” We sing about the cross and the blood and how he payed the penalty for our sins and gave a substitutionary atonement in his death. And I want to say, “Yes! Amen! That’s all well and good, but that’s not all!!” If Jesus was only born to die, then that is not good news (the gospel) at all! If we only tell people about Good Friday, then it is not “Good” anymore.
What is good news is that “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3), and “he was buried, [and] he was raised [!] on the third day, in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:4). Why do we focus on His death but not so much on His resurrection? Why don’t we tell everyone clearly that Jesus was raised from the dead on Easter — that He is risen! What is Good Friday without Easter Sunday? In fact, if there is no Easter Sunday then Good Friday is no longer “Good,” but is rather tragic. God’s Son was killed, and he stayed in the grave — what a tragedy! Paul says that if Christ was not raised from the dead, then we are of most men to be pitied (1 Cor 15:19).
But He did raise from the dead (1 Cor 15:20) — praise the LORD! So when you tell people that Jesus died for their sins, tell them also that He was raised Him from the grave(!) and we can be raised to new life with Him through faith! Proclaim the good news that God raised Jesus from the dead and He conquered death and sin on Easter Sunday! And really celebrate that good news this Sunday morning!
Or, in the well known words of Tony Campolo, tell people:
“It’s Friday, but Sunday’s a comin’!”