Good Friday Indeed
For Christians, Good Friday commemorates not just a historical event, but the sacrificial death of Christ, which with the resurrection, comprises the heart of the Christian faith.
The Catholic Catechism states this succinctly:
Justification has been merited for us by the Passion of Christ who offered himself on the cross as a living victim, holy and pleasing to God, and whose blood has become the instrument of atonement for the sins of all men.
This is based on the words of St. Paul: "Believers are justified freely by God's grace through the redemption in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as an expiation, through faith, by his blood... (Romans 3:24-25, NAB). The customs and prayers associated with Good Friday typically focus on the theme of Christ's sacrificial death for our sins.
Day 1...So today we remember the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 27 you will read about Judas Iscariot hanging himself after betraying Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. You will also read about Jesus going before Pilate and being found innocent by him, but being turned over to the crowd to be crucified, instead of the criminal Barabbas. I have a hard time reading this passage as it breaks my heart every time.
Then as if it wasn’t bad enough, the soldiers mocked Jesus, spitting on Him and striking Him with the staff and then they led Him away to be crucified. How that breaks my heart, to look back and remember what my Savior went through for my once pitiful self, made anew by His ultimate sacrifice.
In the next section of this passage we read about the death of our Lord…how he hung there and cried out in His final breath, and then how the curtain was torn asunder from top to bottom, and the earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people were raised from the dead and they appeared too many in the holy city. Wow, what a sight that must have been. To see these holy people who were once dead, alive again, what a blessing and a shock that must have been. Also did you catch what the centurion and others guarding Jesus’ body said…”Surely He was the Son of God.” I can only imagine how horrified they were to realize this, after what they had just done to Jesus.
We read next in this passage about the burial of Jesus. What must Joseph have been thinking? And Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, what do you think was going through their minds as they sat there opposite the tomb watching this take place? I imagine that they were in shock and could scarcely believe their Lord had been taken away from them. Their sorrow must have been so great.
Day 2 is here at the end of this chapter, and we read about Pilate ordering a guard to be put at the tomb to make sure no one came and took the body away, not only that but a large stone was rolled in front of the tomb and a seal was put on it. What do you think this seal was? A rope or cord perhaps, what do you think?
Day 3 the day after the Sabbath we read about in Matthew 28, and you can click here to read this special passage of scripture.
Now just imagine the two Mary’s fright when there was no body in the tomb, of course the earthquake probably did not help. Then, of course, there was the angel and lightning now that would be quite a frightening experience if you ask me. Here is what the angel said to them: The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." Wow, talk about shocking and not at all subtle, but so exciting for these two women to be able to take this message back to the disciples who were so broken and lost without their Savior.
The next part is really so political, it reminds me of what happens in today’s society still, listen to what the chief priest and elders do:
When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, telling them, "You are to say, 'His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day. Is that not the craziest thing you have ever heard? Wild isn’t it! I mean they did not want the body to be discovered missing because then what Jesus said would be true, so they concocted a story (a lie) and paid the soldiers a large sum of money to keep it on the down low.
Finally we have the Great Commission and I will just put it here for you to read.
The Great Commission
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
I am so thankful that I was given a choice and along with it the free will to make that choice. Also I am forever grateful for the price that was paid for my sins, that God loved me so much that He sacrificed His own son on that rugged cross over 2000 years ago, and please remember that He died for you too, because He loves you. I want to wish you all a very Happy Easter and May God’s face shine upon all who pass this way. The last bit I would like to share with you is that classic song The Old Rugged Cross.
On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross,
The emblem of suffering and shame;
And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
for a world of lost sinners was slain.
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it some day for a crown.
O that old rugged cross, so despised by the world,
Has a wondrous attraction for me;
For the dear Lamb of God left His glory above
To bear it to dark Calvary.
In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine,
A wondrous beauty I see,
For ’twas on that old cross Jesus suffered and died,
To pardon and sanctify me.
To the old rugged cross I will ever be true;
Its shame and reproach gladly bear;
Then He’ll call me some day to my home far away,
Where His glory forever I’ll share.