Saturday, April 03, 2010

What Was So Good About It?

Yesterday, I attended the 12 noon Good Friday service at my former church. It is good to be in the house of the Lord to commemorate His sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus did what he did for the forgiveness of our sins - the sins we ALL commit and would ultimately die with; staining our souls forever. If not for Christ's greatest act in all of Creation, we would not have any way to be reconciled back unto God.

The pastor asked the question, "What is so good about Good Friday?" After viewing a portion of the movie, The Passion of the Christ where we saw Jesus beaten so severely by the Roman soldiers, and forced to carry that heavy cross to Golgotha (which means "the place of the skull") while the soldiers continued to whip Jesus during the terrible journey; that question has to come into every mind that witnessed such a horrid event.

In previous posts on Good Friday, (see Calvary, Good Friday and The Power of Christ's Cross, I discussed many aspects surrounding the Cross at Calvary and why people who do not yet know Christ, still seek him today:

On a KLOVE radio show back in 2007, the host said, "people fall into two camps; those who know Jesus Christ and those who want to know Him."

Wow. Simple but profound. Even those who won't admit it, still want to know Him. Why? Because to know Him is to know God. Jesus was God in the flesh. That is why it is said in the Bible, "they shall call him Immanuel." "Immanuel" means "God with us."

Some people question why Christ had to endure what he did:

Why was Jesus tortured, maimed, spit upon, beard torn, whipped beyond recognition, stabbed in the side, nailed to a cross, humiliated unto death? Because that is exactly what evil does. God allowed those forces of evil to do what they did in order to send us a message so strong that we couldn't possibly miss it.

The enemy of our souls has the goal of devouring us in our sin. He prowls around like a roaring lion, bringing along with him evil, sin and death. That very thing was conquered by Christ at the cross. Because he was the "sinless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world," he accomplished what no ordinary man could ever do. He kept the Law while on earth, then paid the penalty for our sin so that we would not suffer an eternity without him! He was bodily resurrected to life on that first Easter morning approximately 2,000 years ago, and that event changed the world forever.

Why would Jesus endure all of this for us? The Bible tells us, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Put another way through a popular Christian song that plays on the radio (speaking of Jesus' sacrifice), "You would rather die, than to ever live without me."

As I watched the scourging of Jesus, once again, in church yesterday, I was reminded of the fact that what happened and what we witnessed was exactly "what evil does."

Scripture tells us that for a time, God the Father turned His back from His beloved Son as he hung on the cross with our sins laid upon him. It was the only time that Jesus did not call God "his Father" - he yelled out, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"

Forsake means: "to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert" and "to give up or renounce."

God cannot look upon sin. He is Holy and Righteous, so at the moment of humanity's sins being laid upon our Savior, Jesus Christ, God the Father forsake his son.

But look at the second part of the meaning of the word "forsake." It says, "to give up or renounce." Christ's body was given up for our sakes, his blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sins. His body was terribly bruised, beaten, and bloodied because that is what evil does. The horror of that event is relived each time we see any depiction of the crucifixion. It was a terrible and horrendous way to die.

Look at it this way. Our sins were nailed to the cross. They were buried in the grave. Only Jesus, risen in holiness and righteousness came out of that tomb!

In another scene from The Passion of the Christ, we see Jesus' earthly mother - Mary - rushing to pick up and comfort her son when he had fallen down as a young child. The scene shifts to the current day, where Mary witnesses her son falling under the heavy weight of the cross on his way to being crucified. She runs towards him, wanting to comfort him once again as she did when he was a child. However, Jesus says to her, "Mother, I am making all things new." After he said those very words, he finds the strength to stand up with that heavy burden of a cross and continue on the journey to death. What a powerful moment! It was as if he was saying, 'I'm doing this for you - and for all mankind.'

He was.

That is exactly why he did this.

It is exactly why he WILLINGLY went to the cross - for our sakes.

We know from Scripture that Jesus could have called down legions of angels from heaven to relieve him from that cross. People who witnessed the crucifixion even mocked Jesus, challenging him to prove that he is the Son of God by coming down from the cross!

Mat 27:40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest [it] in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.

But if he did that, then we would not have had our sins forgiven. There would be no salvation for mankind, no means of reconciliation between sinful, evil men and Holy, Righteous God. Jesus would have re-entered heaven alone.

Why would Jesus endure all of this for us? The Bible tells us, "while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Put another way through a popular Christian song that plays on the radio (speaking of Jesus' sacrifice), "You would rather die, than to ever live without me."

THAT is what is so good about Good Friday.

Recall what Jesus said about "this temple" (he meant his body):

Jhn 2:19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

Mat 26:61 And said, This [fellow] said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

He is ABLE! Jesus was, is, and forever will be ABLE to accomplish what no man or angel in heaven could have EVER achieved!

Christ's resurrection from the dead was the greatest event in human history! When Christ arose, he had a new, resurrected body (to show us what our new bodies will be like when resurrected for the Millennium), but with the markings of the scars of the crucifixion (recall, the risen Christ told doubting Thomas to put his hand in his side - where the Roman soldier's spear pierced him after Jesus was dead on the cross) to remind all of heaven who he is and what he has done for the salvation of men.

Recall that the disciple John was the only one who stayed with Jesus at the cross. He was later sent to the island of Patmos, where he was brought "into the spirit" and saw visions of what will occur at the culmination of human history.

Revelation 5 (NLT) helps explain to us why Christ is worthy to break the seals of the scroll in the end times:

Rev 5:1 And I saw a scroll in the right hand of the one who was sitting on the throne. There was writing on the inside and the outside of the scroll, and it was sealed with seven seals.

Rev 5:2 And I saw a strong angel, who shouted with a loud voice: "Who is worthy to break the seals on this scroll and unroll it?"

Rev 5:3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll and read it.

Rev 5:4 Then I wept because no one could be found who was worthy to open the scroll and read it.

Rev 5:5 But one of the twenty-four elders said to me, "Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David's throne, [fn] has conquered. He is worthy to open the scroll and break its seven seals."

Rev 5:6 I looked and I saw a Lamb that had been killed but was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits [fn] of God that are sent out into every part of the earth.

Rev 5:7 He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.

Rev 5:8 And as he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense--the prayers of God's people!

Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song with these words: "You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were killed, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.

Rev 5:10 And you have caused them to become God's Kingdom and his priests. And they will reign [fn] on the earth."

Rev 5:11 Then I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and the living beings and the elders.

Rev 5:12 And they sang in a mighty chorus: "The Lamb is worthy--the Lamb who was killed. He is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing."

Rev 5:13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They also sang: "Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever."

Rev 5:14 And the four living beings said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped God and the Lamb.

NLT Footnotes:
(5:5) Greek the root of David.
(5:6) See note on 4:5.
(5:10) Some manuscripts read they are reigning.

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