Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. I was at lunch with some friends and one inquired aggravated why so many businesses were closed today. I said it was Good Friday and they responded with, “Oh yeah.” I think the importance of this day has been overshadowed by what has turned into a crazy day full of Easter eggs, a freaky tall man in a bunny suit, and all kind of new dress outfits. I’m not sure where the Easter bunny tradition came from anyway, which will be something I write about soon too, but I know Easter would not be possible without Good Friday or Passover. I think the beauty of it all is lost in so many people’s ignorance of what it is all about. I was sitting in my little coffee shop at my table last night and got into several conversations with people about “religion and Christianity” that really just had no clue about anything factual and only based there small base of knowledge on hear say and mass media. It is indeed a Good Friday; it is good that we celebrate this day. I know that I personally don’t want to not at least give my time to remember everything and reflect on it all tonight, so I am watching Passion and hanging out with some friends tonight to discuss it all. So what is it all then?

All of it is this amazing story that starts in the Old Testament and strikingly flows through the history and culminates in an empty tomb on a Sunday morning. God sees the oppression of His people, the Israelites, and sends Moses, uses a broken man to chin up to Pharaoh. Let my people free! Through the hardening of his heart God has to send plagues to show him and Egypt who He really is and that He is to be feared. One of the plagues is the taking of the first born. You can find this in Exodus Ch 11 and 12. Here are excerpts from these chapters that sum it all up.

Now the LORD had said to Moses, "I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

So there was this lamb without blemish sacrificed and its blood was placed over the doors of the Israelites so that God would not judge them when He judged Egypt. God chose to save Israel. God struck down ever first born as judgment against Egypt and their gods and wickedness, their standing against Him. So keep this idea of killing the first sons and Passover in mind as we continue.

Fast forward to the temple and sacrificial system. The author of Hebrews says that without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins (9:22). If you read the Gospels you will see this term Son of Man used a lot from Jesus. Jesus was and claimed to be the first son of God. Jesus was God. So there is this idea that is in the Bible that we refer to as the Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is this huge idea that we cannot fully understand of God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit being eternally three beings in one, but all equal, just performing different roles. Jesus lives this life and has about a three ministry that pretty much comes to an end on the celebration night of Passover. Is this significant, you bet! On that night Jesus took bread and wine and said that we should eat and drink in remembrance of Him, this is what we practice as communion in most traditions. Jesus begins even before this meal to predict His death. The prophets speak of a messiah coming to die too. Jesus is also referred to as the Lamb of God. Jesus is arrested and then crucified. There are several things that are special here that may be easily overlooked. Jesus says, while on the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” That eternal community of three beings (Trinity) was broken on the cross. God watched Jesus die and it pleased Him to crush Him (Isaiah Ch 53). If you read Deuteronomy you will come across this promise, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you (31:6)." What?????? God will not forsake us, but He watched His son, His only son die? Amazing!

Now God on the day after Passover kills His only son, His first Son. Now we are covered in Jesus’ blood so when God’s judgment comes again, the blood of the Lamb, the First Son will be covering us and He will pass over. We have peace with God through Christ. That is why Jesus had to die and be crucified and that is why we should celebrate this Friday, Good Friday, for it is by Jesus we have any chance of forgiveness from god and truly escape judgment that we well deserve.

The resurrection, which is Easter, is so important because there is this idea of life and death throughout Scripture too. Sin brings death. Adam sinned and brought death into the world, brought death on anyone who is born. Jesus was judged as a sinner even though He was not, that is why God had to forsake Him and separate Himself from Him in order to judge Him on the cross for sin. If Jesus would have just died, death would not have been conquered. Jesus rose from death and broke its curse and can now offer everlasting life to those who have faith. That is a very short explanation of that though.

I pray that you will know Jesus. Know His death, know His resurrection, and know His life. Let us celebrate God’s unending grace this weekend, starting tonight, the beginning of the payment for our sins, Christ’s Crucifixion. This weekend would be a great time to read the ends of the Gospels from the time Jesus was arrested until His death and also Hebrews. Great stuff!

1 comment:

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