Holy Week: “Good” Friday

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Matthew 27:45-46

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Not every culture refers to Good Friday as “good”.  To the casual observer, God being crucified cruelly on a cross is not a good thing.  The day when God the Son chose to be rejected by God the Father in order to save the entire world is not adequately described by the word “good” either.

In His justice and righteousness, our Holy God exacted a punishment and a consequence for sin.  The wages or cost of our sins was death.  We were in need of an intermediary, but the perpetual slaughter of animals could not cleanse us of our habitual sin pattern.

In the middle of that desperate need, God provided Himself as the sacrificial Lamb. Bearing all of the abuse, infirmity and suffering in all the world, He, for the “joy” set before Him, chose to pay our debt.

How is it that we should obtain such grace?  That the One Who made us and saw every sinful inclination of our hearts would look on us with love and choose to die, knowing we were enemies and cheering on His death?

One of my biggest pet peeves is fake people – when people pretend to be my friend but talk about me behind my back or secretly plot harm against me.  They think I do not see. Christ was not fooled, either.  We are all just as guilty of unfaithfulness before our God Whose costly sacrifice was given on our behalf, even while we faltered in our devotion to Him.

Jesus did not entrust Himself to any man, but He gave Himself for every man.

The most powerful Being was the most humble, lavishly loving those Who were not worthy of such love.

With such a sacrifice offered for us, may God help us to die, too – to sin – and live Holy lives to bring Him glory and others to salvation.  His death seemed like an end, but Christ conquered death in dying when He overcame the cross and the grave.  Now that is not just good news, but the best news ever.

Lord, thank You for dying for us.  We can never thank You enough.  Help us to live grateful lives, spent sharing the message of the cross and the empty tomb.  You are Good, God, and all You do is good.

Worshipful Wednesday: The God of the Afflicted

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Inspirational Thought of the day:

God chose to identify with the lowly and lifts them up.

Scripture:

Psalm 9:19-13

“The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. 10  And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you. 11  Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds! 12  For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted. 13  Be gracious to me, O LordSee my affliction from those who hate me, O you who lift me up from the gates of death.”

Psalm 10:14

“But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand. The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”

Psalm 10:17

“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.”

Have you ever felt like no one notices you?  Or perhaps no one understands or knows the anguish of your soul?  Silently you suffer, wondering if anyone cares?  There is One Who knows – intimately – every worry or care that floods our minds, every burden we try to pretend is not there.  Jesus.

Every slight you feel, pain you endure – none of it is hidden from God’s keen view.  He longs for us to bring it to Him and lay it at His feet, but sometimes we think we can either bear the burden on our own or that he is not able to remove it from us.

it is not until we reflect on this God Who would choose to be counted as one of us – and not as a popular one of us, but as an afflicted one Himself, that we begin to see His ability to help us to do the same.

Joyfully He bore His cross.  How can that be?  Solely by the grace of God and the God Who helps us see past temporary burdens that can serve as stepping stones to be more like Him instead of enduring through some circumstance we regret.  May we be counted worthy to walk through suffering for the glory of God and not our own.

More than the praise or sympathy from any created person, we have the empathy of the Creator Himself, Who has truly been there and is able to completely understand and enable us to walk the same road he did – with victory.

Lord, thank you for showing us how to walk through this lift filled with burdens and cares.  Thank You for choosing to be afflicted, choosing to die for our sins so we could be saved.  May our light and momentary troubles be seen as just they are – temporary afflictions that lead us closer to you.

Good Friday?

John 19:17-24

17 and carrying his own cross he went out to the place called “The Place ofthe Skull(called in Aramaic Golgotha). 18 There they crucified him along with two othersone on each side, with Jesus in the middle. 19 Pilate also had a notice written and fastened to the crosswhich read: “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.” 20 Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem read this notice, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. 21 Then the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The king of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am king of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

23 Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldierand the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.24 So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says,They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.”  So the soldiers did these things.

Responsibility.  The aim of teens who long to be “free”, and also avoided by most.  Sure, we want responsibility that we perceive as helping us gain preferences in life, but taking on responsibility for others is not seen as something to be desired.

Seldom would we find someone willing to bear the responsibility for everyone else when he was innocent Himself.  Even children sense the injustice and want people to know when they are blameless.  For Christ to willingly permit sinful man to torture Him when He was guiltless and had all the power in the world at His disposal is beyond words or understanding. This is wrong that an innocent man should die – how could it be called “good”?

The God of the universe allowed man to kill God.  And not just a quick death, either.  Painful and humiliating.  Why did it have to be that way?  When I contemplate Christ’s suffering on my behalf, I wish it did not have to be so graphic, so hard. But God knew fully what was to happen long before it ever was.  He could have changed the circumstances and He did not.

The timing and the manner of His death were in His will.  Our sins were destroying us – vile and condemning our souls to Hell – He took that suffering for us; the perfect, spotless Lamb bore all of our sins.  The weight of the world was upon Him and He bore it with humility and love.

How can this day be called “Good”?  Logically we know that the redemption of man is the best news ever, but the term “good” makes me think of how Holy He is.  Holy and yet nailed to a tree.  It is a day of solemn reflection that One so Righteous was cruelly crucified.

When a soldier sacrifices his own life and lays it down for another, there is gratitude for the precious gift given, but no rejoicing in the lost life.  Our celebration of His resurrection is coming, but for now, I want to bow before my King of Kings with overflowing thankfulness that He would die for me.  What a Good, Holy, Perfect God, who would suffer for our sins willingly and do this with joy in His heart.

Lord, thank you for coming to save us from our sins so we could know You!  Help us to never take such a sacrifice for granted and to walk in obedience with You all our days.