It’s 12:44 as I begin to write this post. Approximately 44 minutes ago, some 2,000+ years ago, Jesus declared, “It is finished,” or “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit” depending on which Disciple’s account you read.
The earth shook, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two and darkness filled the sky. At that point, nobody knew the glorious news that would come on the 3rd day when Jesus rose from the dead to appear first to Mary Magdalene.
As I look outside, the sun is shining and I, along with many of you, are preparing for the Easter Sunday celebration…shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc.
How Good it was to stop for a few minutes to read through Matthew 27:33-61 and just…well, think about it.
This day has become known as Good Friday, marked by the horrific act of one man beaten, tortured, insulted, stripped of any humanity, and nailed to a cross to die.
Now, just stop and think about that for a second. Maybe you’ve never seen this acted out in a play or in a movie. Maybe you’ve read the words a bunch of times but they never jumped off the page. Maybe this seems like a fantastic story but it never seemed real. After all, we live in an era where crime, bullying and violence are part of everyday life – just pick up the paper, read the Internet news or watch TV. In many ways, we’ve become desensitized to it until it reaches us personally, and so it becomes easy to sort of gloss over Jesus’ suffering on the cross. We can just look the other direction and not pay any attention to it.
Maybe you’re not sure this Jesus person was even real…
I want you to take a moment to think of an adult male figure in your life who cares about you and is known as a “good person” – someone who would “give a stranger the shirt off his back” (you’ve heard this phrase before).
Now, picture that person being arrested for his good works (doesn’t that sound crazy already?) and then being beaten, stripped of clothing, tortured and whipped to bleeding, denied any first aid or intervention, and then insulted and made fun of on top if it all while your family, friends and neighbors, even the whole city stands by and does nothing. (I wonder if Action News would be there to cover it? Would anyone riot in the streets or protest while holding signs?)
Next, picture that person being sentenced to die on a cross and being forced to carry the cross, on foot, a great distance – weakened, bruised, bloody, and barely able to stand. Every time he stumbles or falls, he’s beaten again.
Then, when the person arrives at the crucifixion spot, he is laid down on the cross while his hands and feet are nailed to it. Can you hear each scream with each spike being driven into his hands and feet. I don’t know about you, but accidentally banging something or spraining something is pain enough let alone the idea of having my hands and feet nailed to a block of wood.
Finally, the cross is lifted high, sunk into the ground, and this person hangs in the hot sun, slowly suffocating as his lungs collapse, until his lungs collapse.
It’s outrageous, isn’t it? Horrific? Ludicrous? We can come up with 100 more adjectives but aside from anything it was or was like, is the fact that it happened. And it happened for you and for me.
2,000+ years ago today Jesus suffered beating, torture and mockery, and died on the cross for my sin and your sin…for the sins that happened before today, the ones we’ll commit today, and the sin that will happen tomorrow. All sin.
He was, and is, our Savior.
Why? Because God loves us more than we can understand in human terms. The infinite and unconditional love God has for us caused Him to send His one and only son Jesus Christ to Earth in human form. Nothing that happened in the story of Jesus was a surprise to God. It was planned before the foundation of the Earth. And God did it all to make a way for us to be reconciled to Him. We can never be good enough on our own. We can never overcome our sins on our own. By believing in Jesus as our Savior we have the opportunity to receive God’s mercy and grace…salvation…eternal life with our Father and Creator, God. (John 3:16)
If you have never recognized Jesus as your Savior, today is a good day to make that decision and it’s as simple as A-B-C. Wherever you are, find a quiet spot. Maybe you’re not used to praying or talking to God. It’s okay. In your own words, simply…
A- Admit that you’re a sinner and you can’t do it on your own (e.g., “God I’m a sinner” or “God, I’ve really screwed up” etc.)
B-Believe that Jesus is your Savior (e.g. “I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me” or “I believe Jesus is real” etc.)
C- Commit your life (e.g. “Please come into my heart and show me how to live for you God” or “Please show me how to live your way God” or “I dedicate my life to you” etc.)
If you just prayed, congratulations and welcome to the family of God! Your name is now written in the book of life and all of Heaven is rejoicing! Tell your pastor, tell a close friend, and get into a Bible believing church that will help you grow in your faith.
Today is, in fact, a very Good Friday. And how glorious Easter Sunday will be when we can celebrate that Jesus is Alive! I pray that He is alive in your heart as well. Please share this post with a friend.