Friday, April 3, 2015

Thoughts on Good Friday

It's Friday. Good Friday.
Tonight my son is going to Prom. School is out. Spring is in the air. Tomorrow we will have our city-wide Easter egg hunt.On Sunday, my youngest will have her 10th birthday. Life is good and I am thankful. I am thankful for this life I've been given and for all the amazing people God has given me to share it with. Today I am also consciously thankful for the gift of forgiveness and eternity in Heaven and am more aware of the sacrifice that was made for me to have these gifts than I am on most days. 

It's Good Friday. The day we recognize as the day Christ Jesus was crucified. What a terribly wonderful day. Images from The Passion of the Christ blur through my thoughts. Images of a beaten, broken, bruised, crushed Jesus are in the forefront of my mind. The Biblical account of Good Friday is here.

So much happened in one day! At daybreak, Jesus goes before Pilate. He hears all the accusations made against Him and does not defend Himself, does not call out His accusers. I can't imagine how his heart must have ached knowing how the people felt about him.  I guess he already knew how they felt. Still, it must have hurt to hear them call for His death. I've often wondered how "fully God and fully man" works here. Did His understanding of mankind's need for a Savior outweigh their hatred of Him? Did His understanding of Satan and Hell give Him compassion for those who betrayed Him, beat Him, and, ultimately, killed Him? Since He died for us, I believe that this is the case. These are things that would be attributed to Him being "fully God". So then, how does the "fully man" fit in? Did He fully feel the deep sting of betrayal, fully experience the brokenness of His human body? Was He left breathless from the weight of the hatred spewed at Him? He must have felt it all as any of us would...since He was paying the price for our sin. My heart breaks to think about these things. My Lord, My Jesus, My Savior, the Creator of the Universe, broken and beaten....for me.

Judas hangs himself today too. I feel sorry for Judas. I really do. He realized, too late, that he'd made a grave error. He tried to make it right, but the Sanhedrin would not turn from the plan they'd put in motion. Judas had no hope. There was absolutely nothing he could do to make it right. My heart breaks for him, mainly because I know that, without Jesus, I too would be without hope. There are things I've done that can never be made right, but, thanks be to God, Jesus died and paid the penalty for my sin, rose on the 3rd day and defeated death and the grave so that I can live eternally in the presence of my Lord in Heaven! How precious it is to me that this was included in Scripture. One more example of our utter hopelessness and our tremendous unfathomable need for a Savior.
 
But I get ahead of myself. It's still Friday.

My Lord has been condemned to die. He was so hated and despised that the people set a known murderer free and asked that Jesus die in His place. (I just realized that this is another clear picture of what Jesus did for all of us. Barabbas did NOTHING to warrant his freedom. Jesus died in his place.)
 
Since I saw the Passion, one phrase in this text has hung heavy in my heart. The phrase is found in
Matthew 27:26  Then he released Barabbas to them. But after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified. 
Mark 15:15 Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
 3 little words. They aren't even in Luke and John's accounts. 3 little words that mean my Lord was whipped with the cat of nine tails, the flesh was ripped from His back, He was beaten beyond recognition. I do not think that even my most gruesome imagining can touch the reality of the beating He received. All recorded in three little words. I'm sure that no further explanation was needed  when the text was written. However, in our time, not being familiar with "flogging", it is far too easy to look over those 3 little words without acknowledging the severity of the punishment our Savior received.
 
As I said, so much happened on that Friday. Too much to ponder here.
 
After carrying His cross (He was too weak to do it alone, so the Roman guards forced bystander to help Him), He was crucified. Again, the words have softened their blow over the ages. This was truly a horrendous death.
 
The last thing I want to mention is the beautiful gift Christ gives us on the cross. When He tells the thief "Today you will be with me in paradise". You can read Luke's account of it here. As if we needed any more encouragement to trust Him. As if what He'd already done was not enough, Jesus gives us this beautiful promise. It's as if He waited until He had our full attention and, before He drew His last breath, he said,  "Believe in Me. Believe I am who I say I am. Trust in Me and you will be saved."
 
And then the Lord of All Creation died.
 
It's Friday.
The day Jesus showed me how to defend myself against wrongful accusations.
 
It's Friday.
The day my Savior made sure that I understood that faith in Him is all I need to be saved.
 
It's Friday.
The day that the Creator of the Universe, the Master of all Creation, the Lover of my soul, was mocked, scorned, spat upon, beaten beyond anything I can imagine.
 
It's Friday.
The day that God gave His life for mine.