'GOOD' FRIDAY OR 'SAD' FRIDAY?
We celebrated Good Friday a few days ago. For 40 days we focussed our thoughts and attention on that old rugged cross where Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Lamb of God, was bruised and battered for my sins, your sins and the sins of the whole world. But can we ever understand the depth, height, width and length of His love, which is so amazing, so wonderful, so unique, even in eternity?
To understand His love, we have to go to a place called Calvary and behold the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the whole world. It is not a beautiful place. It is not a place that one would go to admire its grandeur. It was here that the Son of God and the Lamb of God was brutally murdered. This place is important to us not because of its geographical location or historical significance. It is important to us because Jesus, the Son of God, died there as the supreme sacrifice for the whole human race. The one who never committed sin, the one who was holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners (Heb.7:26) was hanging between heaven and earth on those three cruel spikes. In Romans 5:8 we read, "God demonstrates His love towards us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." Such love of God is not human, it is divine. It is beyond human comprehension! To understand why the Rose of Sharon was crushed on Mount Golgotha, we have to understand the following vital facts:
Born On A Mission
Jesus was born not to establish a kingdom or religion, but to establish a relationship that was broken when man committed sin. In Romans 3:10, 23 we read, "When God looked down from heaven, there was no righteous person, no not one. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Though God became angry, the Bible says He is slow to anger (Psa.103:8) and hence His love (1Jn.4:8) enveloped His wrath. Being a forgiving God, He prepared a blueprint in heaven to save His created beings, and that is why John 3:16 is recorded in the Bible! And when our Saviour was born, He was given a very special name in Luke1:31 where we read, "Mary, you have found grace in the sight of God. You shall conceive in your womb a child… and shall call His name Jesus." The meaning of Jesus is recorded in Matthew 1:21, "You shall call Him Jesus for He shall deliver mankind from their sins." The purpose of giving this name was accomplished when He died as a supreme sacrifice on that old rugged cross!
Born As The Lamb Of God
Throughout the Old Testament, there was a very important question people asked time and again, "Where is the Lamb?" This question was first asked by Isaac, Abraham's son, in Genesis 22:7 as he was climbing Mount Moriah with his father. And every time the Israelites killed a lamb for the remission of their sins, they too asked the same question, "Where is the Lamb chosen by God?" When Solomon built the temple, he had to slaughter 120000 sheep and 22000 oxen! You can imagine the river of blood which flowed that day! Even that day the question was the same, "Where is the sacrificial Lamb to die as a supreme sacrifice once and for all?" This question was answered by John the Baptist in John 1:29 where he saw Jesus Christ walking with His disciples and exclaimed, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!" Jesus was the chosen Lamb even before the creation of this universe! (1Pet.1:20) and He bought us for a price by shedding His precious blood on the cross (1Pet.1:18).
Died As My Substitute
The prophet Isaiah wrote 750 years ago as to how Jesus would be born in the little town of Bethlehem, what name and titles shall be given to Him (Isa.9:6) and how He would die as a supreme sacrifice on the cross. In Isaiah 53:5 we read, "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed." We should personalise this statement by confessing, He was wounded for my transgressions, and He was bruised for my iniquities. Then only we will be able to understand His unique and amazing love! Barabbas, when he came to know that innocent Jesus died in his place and as his substitute, might have run to Mount Golgotha, knelt before our Lord and asked, "Lord, why? Why did you die in my place and on my behalf…?" Jesus might have answered, "I am dying as your substitute for your sins; what are you going to do for me?" Barabbas might have become the first evangelist! Who knows?
Accomplished His Mission
Mission accomplished! Yes, when Jesus uttered the sixth word on the cross, tetelestai, which means 'it is finished!' Satan knew he was utterly defeated and his days were numbered! Just imagine what would have happened if Jesus were to exclaim, "I am finished" on the cross! Missionaries would not have come from the West to proclaim the Gospel to reveal to our forefathers that Jesus is the only Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn.14:6). The day of the death of our Saviour is not known as Sad Friday, Bad Friday or Black Friday. Because, when the disciples went to the sepulchre early in the morning, they heard the glad tidings from the angel, "He is not here, for He is risen!" (Matt.28:6). It was the breaking news of that time on the Resurrection Day! Yes, among the millions of tombs in the world, only one tomb is empty, the tomb of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! From street to street, in lanes and bylanes, people made a joyful noise unto the Lord (Psa.100:1) and exclaimed, "He is risen indeed!"
The difference between the God of Christians and the gods of non-Christians is recorded in 1 Timothy 4:10, "We trust in a living God who is the Saviour of all men, especially of those that believe…" What a privilege to trust in a resurrected Christ who cares for us!
Grace and peace!