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Good Friday

April 1, 2015

As a follow up to the Maundy Thursday post yesterday, I felt it was important to take a look at Good Friday as well. Interesting that the Church calls it “Good Friday,” when at the outset, there doesn’t seem to be anything good about it at all. Thursday night, Jesus was betrayed and arrested. Friday he was accused, wrongly convicted, beaten, whipped, humiliated, hung on a cross, died, and was buried. Why in the world would we call this “good?”

It is good because it was God’s plan of salvation.

God used Christ’s sacrifice to bridge the gap created between Himself and His sinful, broken, lost creation – Humanity.

Oh, God tried to live in harmony with His creation in other ways. He walked in the cool of the day with Adam in the garden of Eden… that is… until Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lies and transgressed God’s command.

God set up the nation of Israel through Abraham to be a light and an example unto the rest of the world as to how they should live in harmony with their Creator… but time and time again, Israel willfully walked away from the covenant promises of God.

He rescued Israel from captivity in Egypt. He led them across the sea on dry land, with walls of water on either side! He fed them from the heavens. He showed His presence with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night… and yet, when Moses went up the mountain to receive the Law, the Israelites got tired of waiting and made a god of their own out of gold…

He granted their request to appoint a king as His vessel of presence with prophets to guide, but Israel fell into disarray, eventually leading to two separate kingdoms, and finally, captivity once again.

Judges were used to rescue Israel when there were no kings to govern, and yet the people still fell back into their selfish ways…

So, God was silent for 400 years… and then, a baby that grew into a man who shook the entire world to its foundations with God’s revolutionary love, grace, mercy, and justice in the flesh. Jesus was God’s final play in the plan of salvation. In the sacrifcial system, only the blood of a spotless and blameless animal could cover or roll away one’s sins for a year. Christ’s act as the spotless and blameless sacrifice for all humankind didn’t just roll away our sin… it washed it clean.

The Apostle Paul told us as much in Romans 5:6-11 – “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 
7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 
10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 
11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

Through Christ’s death, we now have the opportunity to experience reconciliation and eternal life with our Creator! Christ’s death, while mournful, provided a “light at the end of the tunnel” for all believers: Hope of a complete restoration of our relationship with the Father.

So, how do we claim this light and hope as our own?

Do do so, first we must trade our disbelief for belief.

Jesus, when comforting the Disciples during their final meal together, spoke these words in John 14:1-7 – “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Jesus also spoke of God’s love for all humanity during His conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:14-18 – Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

It takes belief in Christ to obtain the hope God gives on Good Friday. Without belief in Jesus, the rest of the story is simply an interesting fictional account, barely worthy of a glance from Hollywood. Christ’s sacrifice opened the door for any and all to be reconciled to their creator and spend eternity with Him.

Secondly, we must trade our disobedience for joy.

Titus 3:3-7 – At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Adam and Eve’s disobedience is what allowed sin to enter God’s world. The Israelite’s disobedience is what caused Christ’s entrance into the world and subsequent death. Our disobedience keeps us at arm’s length from the very One who sent Christ to die for our transgressions. We must believe and accept that we are justified by God’s grace through faith in Christ, and trade our disobedience for joy in the good news of salvation.

Third, we must trade our betrayal for love.

Lest we think we have not betrayed Christ in the same manner as Judas or Peter, Paul brings a sobering word.

Romans 3:9-18 – What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one;11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13 “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.” 14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” 15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 ruin and misery mark their ways, 17 and the way of peace they do not know.” 18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Sounds pretty bleak, right? It would be, were it not for God’s unfailing love for us. Though our earthly manner is one of selfish ambition, God’s Word gives us the antidote.

Deuteronomy 6:5-6 – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Jesus Himself quoted this Old Testament passage when asked by the Pharisees what the greatest commandment was.

Matthew 22:34-40 – Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Good Friday is indeed a somber time as Christians all over the world take time to intentionally consider the sacrifice God made through Christ. However, it is indeed a “good” time as well, for through Christ’s substitutional atonement for our sin, we have the opportunity to trade our unbelief for belief, our disobedience for joy, and our betrayal for undying love.

The best news? In the words of acapella group Take 6, it may seem bad on Friday night, but Sunday’s on the way… Amen.

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