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Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday’

It’s very gray this morning… and windy and cool.  It should be gray on Good Friday.

All creatures should walk solemnly today as we contemplate the Savior of the world.

This Jesus, whose sinless life fulfilled all the righteous demands of the law which we were helpless to do.

This Jesus, who on this day of all dreadful days cannot restrain his love.  He gives a Gentile governor numerous opportunities to follow conscience and to know the Truth which sets men free (John 18-19).  He warns the mourners who follow him on his road to the cross – “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:27-31).  He prays from the cross for his accusers – “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).  He bestows forgiveness and gives eternal hope to the believing criminal crucified next to him (Luke 23:39-43) and He cares for his mother (John 19:26-27).

This Jesus, will willingly suffer torture and humiliation on this day at the hands of his creatures.  He asked, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53).  Yet, He submitted to the will of the Father to proceed with their plan crafted before the foundations of the world were laid (Luke 22:42).

Pilate’s weakness will not only lead to Jesus’ crucifixion, but add to his sufferings as he tries to appease the blood-thirsty crowd by having Jesus tortured.  He orders Jesus flogged, whipped with leather straps studded with bits of lead and pieces of bone.  Jesus is then led back before the angry crowd in this bloodied state clothed in a purple robe and crowned with thorns, the result of cruel bullying by Pilate’s soldiers.  He is cast out of the Jews’ beloved Jerusalem, bearing the disgrace of an execution “outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:13).  At the cross, He is stripped down his chiton, the garment worn next to his skin.  The attending soldiers throw lots for his clothes, judging the clothing to be of more value than its owner, the God-man who hangs nearly naked before them.

Then, of course, there comes the greatest transaction in the history of the world.  By the end of this day, all of Christ’s righteousness will appear as available credit in the accounts of sinful men.  Before this though, Jesus will become sin – my sin, your sin, the sin of all mankind.  He will absorb all the punishment for it in wave after wave as He hangs on the tree and turns away God’s wrath from rebellious mankind to himself.  By the end of this day there will remain for God’s people not a single drop of wrath left toward us, all of it spent on his Son.  There is only goodness and love left toward me, his child.

Hmmm…
ah me…

Oh look!  I see the sun has broken through!

It should be sunny on this day.

“And I beheld God’s love displayed
You suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me
Now all I have is grace!”

– – – – –

Illustration by Christopher Powers, Full of Eyes, for his music video set to Sovereign Grace’s song, “All I Have is Christ.”

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Good Friday IV Here’s Good Friday from two very different sources. First from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible (1) –

“Papa?” Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. “Papa? Where are you? Don’t leave me!’

And for the first time – and the last – when he spoke nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn’t answer. He turned away from his Boy…

The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, “It is finished!”

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.

“Father!” Jesus cried. “I give you my life.” And with a great sigh he let himself die…

“That’s the end of Jesus,” the Leaders said.

But, just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb. They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb. So that no one could get in.

Or out.

The second from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (2) –

Now Jesus was perfectly holy. He hated sin with his entire being. The thought of evil, of sin, contradicted everything in his character. Far more than we do, Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil. Yet in obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took on himself all the sins of those who would someday be saved. Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being (2 Corinthians 5:21). All that he hated most deeply was poured out fully upon him…

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The question does not mean, Why have you left me forever? for Jesus knew that he was leaving the world, that he was going to the Father (John 14:28). Jesus knew that he would rise again (John 2:19). [In fact,] it was “for the joy that was set before him” that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)… It is better to understand the question… as meaning, Why have you left me for so long?

Jesus, in his human nature, knew he would have to bear our sins, to suffer and to die. But, in his human consciousness, he probably did not know how long this suffering would take. Yet to bear the guilt of millions of sins even for a moment would cause the greatest anguish of soul. To face the deep and furious wrath of an infinite God even for an instant would cause the most profound fear. But Jesus’ suffering was not over in a minute – or two – or ten.

When would it end? Could there be yet more weight of sin? Yet more wrath of God? Hour after hour it went on – the dark weight of sin and the deep wrath of God poured over Jesus in wave after wave. Jesus at last cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why must this suffering go on so long? Oh God, my God, will you ever bring it to an end?…

[You see,] God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin, [past and future,] was unleashed against God’s own Son…

If we ask, Who required Christ to pay the penalty for our sins? the answer given by Scripture is that the penalty was inflicted by God the Father as he represented the interests of the Trinity in redemption. It was God’s justice that required that sin be paid for, and, among the members of the Trinity, it was God the Father whose role was to require that payment. God the Son voluntarily took upon himself the role of bearing the penalty for sin…

Herein we see something of the amazing love of both God the Father and God the Son in redemption. Not only did Jesus know that he would bear the incredible pain of the cross, but God the Father also knew that he would have to inflict this pain on his own deeply loved Son (Romans 5:8)…

Then at last, Jesus knew his suffering was nearing completion. He knew he had consciously borne all the wrath of the Father against our sins, for God’s anger had abated and the awful heaviness of sin was being removed. He knew that all that remained was to yield up his spirit to his heavenly Father and die. With a shout of victory, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Then with a loud voice, he once more cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). And then he voluntarily gave up the life that no one could take from him (John 10:17-18), and he died.

God the Father saw “the fruit of the travail of his soul” and was “satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The New Testament refer(s) to Jesus’ death as a propitiation… (having) the sense of a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God – and thereby makes God propitious, or favorable, toward us.

For those of us in Christ, there is now no more anger or wrath left in the Father toward our sin. He acts wholly propitious toward us – forever. And that’s why it’s called Good Friday.

(1) Lloyd-Jones, Sally, and Jago. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2007. 304-06. Print.

(2) Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. 573-77. Print.

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My oldest daughter, Ashley, recently posted a piece on her husband Andrew’s blog that stands in opposition to the “you are to die for” message often used in reference to Christ’s motivation for the cross.

The “you are to die for” message more than implies some glint of personal value in me that was worth all the “trouble” Christ went through on the cross.  It minimizes the fact that there is nothing good in me to recommend myself and it makes me the focus of the cross; not the Trinity.

Jacobson reminds us:

Though the cross is the only place I can go for hope; though the cross is the only thing I can cling to in the courtroom of God; though the cross is the only thing that can bring me ultimate joy and freedom; though the cross is the thing that stands between me and eternal condemnation; though the cross is the only option for my redemption; though the cross is my ultimate hope…

The cross is NOT ultimately about me.

The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to display definitively, absolutely, undoubtedly, irrevocably the GLORY of God!

The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to show the totality of the supremacy of God over sin, death, and the devil.

The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to end, without question, the eternal battle with Satan.

The ultimate aim of Christ on the Cross was to witness to the holiness and justice of God who cannot tolerate sin.

The ultimate aim of Christ on the cross was to display the massive, undeniable righteousness of God who is Just and the Justifier of those who trust in Jesus…

Ah, but here is the glorious mystery that should make my heart stop: in the cross, Christ is pleased and glorified in my justification from sin. I benefit eternally for him conquering sin. When he conquered sin, my sin, he made himself both just and my justifier. The victory that brought him ultimate glory has brought me life.

So, even though I am not the ultimate aim of the cross, there is nothing else but the cross that can be my aim.

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Rick Gamache has created a wonderfully readable narrative combining the events of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday based on the Gospel accounts, The Father’s Cup.
The excerpt below is a dramatized scenario of Christ’s hours on the cross as he drank the Cup of his Father.
 
 
 
 
 “And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will’” (Matthew 26:39).
 

…[Jesus] sags back into silence, back into countless hours of limitless pain.

Then Jesus is startled by a foul odor. It isn’t the stench of open wounds. It’s something else. And it crawls inside him. He looks up to his Father. His Father looks back, but Jesus doesn’t recognize these eyes. They pierce the invisible world with fire and darken the visible sky. And Jesus feels dirty. He hangs between earth and heaven filthy with human discharge on the outside and, now, filthy with human wickedness on the inside.

The Father speaks:

Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn on my great glory?

You are self-sufficient and self-righteous — consumed with yourself and puffed up and selfishly ambitious.

You rob me of my glory and worship what’s inside of you instead of looking out to the One who created you.

You are a greedy, lazy, gluttonous slanderer and gossip.

You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer.

You practice sexual immorality; you make pornography, and fill you mind with vulgarity.

You exchange my truth for a lie and worship the creature instead of the Creator. And so you are given up to your homosexual passions, dressing immodestly, and lusting after what is forbidden.

With all your heart you love perverse pleasure.

You hate your brother and murder him with the bullets of anger fired from your own heart.

You kill babies for your convenience.

You oppress the poor and deal slaves and ignore the needy.

You persecute my people.

You love money and prestige and honor.

You put on a cloak of outward piety, but inside you are filled with dead men’s bones — you hypocrite!

You are lukewarm and easily enticed by the world.

You covet and can’t have so you murder.

You are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness.

You blame others for your sin and are too proud to even call it sin.

You are never slow to speak.

And you have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment.

Your words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt and obscene talk.

You are a false prophet leading people astray.

You mock your parents.

You have no self-control.

You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions.

You’re a drunkard and a thief.

You’re an anxious coward.

You do not trust me.

You blaspheme against me.

You are an un-submissive wife.

And you are a lazy, disengaged husband.

You file for divorce and crush the parable of my love for the church.

You’re a pimp and a drug dealer.

You practice divination and worship demons.

The list of your sins goes on and on and on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with disgust, and indignation for your sin consumes me.

Now, drink my cup!

And Jesus does. He drinks for hours. He downs every drop of the scalding liquid of God’s own hatred of sin mingled with his white-hot wrath against that sin. This is the Father’s cup: omnipotent hatred and anger for the sins of every generation past, present, and future — omnipotent wrath directed at one naked man hanging on a cross.

The Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself. He looks away.

Jesus pushes himself upward and howls to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Silence.

Separation.

Jesus whispers, “I’m thirsty,” and he sags.

The merciful centurion soaks a sponge in sour wine and lifts it on a reed to Jesus’ lips. And the sour wine is the sweetest drink he ever tasted.

Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every child of God has been laid on Jesus and he drank the cup of God’s wrath dry.

It’s three o’clock, Friday afternoon, and Jesus finds one more surge of strength. He presses his torn feet against the spikes, straightens his legs, and with one last gasp of air cries out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

And he dies…


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