Friday, March 25, 2016

The "Good" in Good Friday?

Year 4-Day 85: Today, I am grateful for the good in Good Friday.

Good Friday. Imagine the smells of the Passover feast all around.  Women hustling to market to finish the meal preparations and attend to the details. Men trying to get the work done before sunset on the Sabbath. 

Jewish tradition was that the Sabbath was the 7th day of the week. Saturday. I have read something twice recently and my friend, Clara Jo, shared it, too, so and it makes me pause and read some scripture with a different perspective. 

While we observe a 24 clock. They used sunup to sundown (a twelve hour day about 6 am-6 pm). Observance in the Hebrew Bible was universally from sixth-day sundown to seventh-day sundownEvening preparations with intentional rest were how they "started" their new day. They didn't wake up late and behind. They were ready for the day.  I could learn some things from this practice. 

Today, we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. It has become known as "Good Friday". I thought that was an oxymoron as a child.  It felt horribly sad and wrong, that Jesus would suffer and die.  The knowledge that it was for my sins was a burden to a child's heart. I didn't understand fully the why...mostly the shame and the guilt.  Somehow...I missed the love message. Not His duty and obligation...but Christ's choice. I return to a favorite thought ...nails didn't hold Jesus to the did. 

Let's return to Jerusalem on that day...and Jesus is hanging on the cross. Pain and suffering beyond what we can fathom. There...not because Rome was against him or any wrong doing of his own, but because church leaders were furious, fearful and frustrated. They had found a way to get him arrested and crucified. The officials tried to get him released.  The people chose a murder over Jesus the miracle worker.  Public opinion changes like the wind. It is often unwise, with allegations unfounded. Are things so different today? 

Jesus spoke very little from the cross. Science says every breath to speak added to his pain. He didn't have much human life left. Things were about to change.  What he did say was recorded and significant. 

1. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” -Matthew 26:47
2. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” - Luke 23:34
3. “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise" - Luke 23:43
4. “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” - Luke 23:46  
5. “Dear Woman, here is your son!” and “Here is your mother!”  -John 19:26-27
6. “I am thirsty” -John 19:28
7. “It is finished!” -John 19:30 

Then, about 3 pm, as the temple priest are preparing the sacrifice of the Passover lamb and Jesus is on the cross.  A little time passes and the work to prepare is nearly complete...on the cross and in the temple. The shofar (a horn) blew to signify the Passover would officially begin with a sacrifice in the temple. Jesus cries out "It is finished" with a sacrifice on the cross. The Passover sacrifice is slain.  The earth shook, the sky went black and the temple curtain ripped. 

The traditional perfect lamb had been slain. A new covenant was in place as another Perfect Lamb hung lifeless on a cross on a hill not that far away. The ripped temple curtain had separated the "holiest of holy" places in the temple. Only the high priests were allowed to enter after much preparation. The presence of God so strong, it was awe evoking. That temple curtain...torn and open, because Jesus had changed everything. 

The Messiah had come. He was rejected and crucified. Propitiation (what a great word) for all who would accept the gift of grace for simple, true belief.  

This CS Lewis quote is new to me: "It cost God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things; but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion." 

Such a high price. Yet, in my grown up feels different.  I can see the "good" in Good Friday.  I can see the love that knew no limits.  The love that hung from a cross so we could be joint heirs in eternity with Jesus. The love that raged a death defying war against hell and won the fight to rescue His bride.  That, my friend is crazy love in action. 

As you make your weekend preparations...if you are heading to a place of worship out of obligation, guilt or duty...don't. Go in love. Fall in love. Accept His grace. Be renewed and restored to fellowship. His love never fails. It changes everything. In His time and according to the Master's plan, but I can assure you that love... always... wins.

Today, I am grateful for the"good" in Good Friday. 

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