Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Let me get this straight...

The day that the Christian world stops to remember the crucifixion of our Savior is called "good". What's good about it?

First, Jesus’ death was a planned event. On the surface it would appear that the crucifixion of Jesus was precipitated by a sudden turn of events that took Him from being a conquering hero on Sunday to a shameful death on Friday. Not so! From the earliest chapters of Genesis through the ancient writings of the Hebrew prophets it was made clear that mankind could and would be reconciled to God by the sacrificial death of a lamb. One notable illustration (found in Exodus 12) of this was the Passover in Egypt. There each Hebrew household was told to kill their best lamb and put its blood over the doorposts of their homes. As the plague of death to the first-born came over the country, those within the homes with blood on the doors would be spared God’s judgment.

It was no coincidence that Jesus’ crucifixion took place on Passover. He was the Lamb spoken of in Isaiah 53:7. “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” He knew His destiny was to die in Jerusalem. In the latter days of His ministry He began to prepare His disciples for His inevitable death. They didn’t understand, and even tried to prevent Him from going to Jerusalem. But less than two months later Peter would preach that Jesus’ death was a part of God’s predetermined plan to bring salvation to lost humanity.

A second reason is that Jesus’ death was an act of love. A sign of genuine love is a willingness to sacrifice or give up time or possessions for the one who is loved. Loving parents understand what it means to sacrifice for their children. Because of our love for them, we don’t mind. Jesus said it this way; “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” He called His disciples His “friends” because they obeyed His commands. To die for your friends would take incredible love. But, what about dying for your enemies? Paul writes that Jesus did exactly that. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).” And in verse 10 he equates being a sinner with being the enemy of God.

I have heard some say, “If God loves me, why doesn’t He ever show it?”. My response is simply, “He has!”. I like the poster that depicts Christ’s arms stretched out, hands nailed to the cross with the caption “I love you this much”. If you are “looking for love” but “in all the wrong places”, you can find the real thing in the love of Jesus who died for you.

Third, Jesus’ death brought closure. While on the cross Jesus said a number of things that are recorded for us in the Bible. “Father, forgive them…” “Woman, behold your son…” “I thirst.” “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” “Today you shall be with me in Paradise.” “Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'” All are words full of power and depth. One of His sayings, “It is finished” is perhaps the most significant phrase He uttered.

Both Matthew and Luke record that from noon until 3:00PM the sky was darkened. It was during this time that our sin was transferred to Him and His Father judged the Son in our place. Then, after the sun again illuminated the sky, He spoke again. He didn’t say, “I am finished”, but “It is finished.” The Greek word written in Scripture literally means, “mission accomplished”. “It” meant the work He came to do, which was to die in our place and trade His everlasting life for our condemnation. In other words, nothing more can be done for us to receive that life. Christ has done it all.

Perhaps you have never been told that “it is finished”. You may be trying to finish it on your own by your religion and good deeds. They can’t add to what He has finished. You see, Good Friday is “good” because the work of Jesus on the cross paid for our sin. The tragedy of His death resulted in our potential benefit. All we must do is receive that payment by faith in Him.

© 2008 Rick Lawrenson


Lee said...

My husband preached a message Good Friday last year and it was titled "What's so good about Good Friday" and he addressed many of the things you just did.
Yes, Good Friday is very good. Praise be to God!

marcia said...

Rick, I noticed the copyright symbol at the bottom of this post, and wondered if perhaps this is the text from the column you write for the local newspaper that you have mentioned in the past. I hope is so very clearly and caringly written! I'm praying that many hearts and lives will be touched and changed by the Holy Spirit working through your words!

Rick Lawrenson said...

Yes, Marcia, it was in Wednesday's Outer Banks Sentinel.

And Lee, it was taken from notes from my Good Friday message in 2006titled, "What's So Good About Good Friday?"!

Terry Gray Sr. said...

Great post Rick. I never really thought about it that way. Two acts of love at one time. God sacrificing his son for us, and Jesus also showing his love by dying for us. I always looked at it as God showing his love by giving his son.

Thanks for making us think.