I received some encouraging words after my remarks on Good Friday at Gateway Christian Fellowship. So, I decided to share my notes. I hope they encourage you.
Am I experiencing the power of resurrection? Are we experiencing the extraordinary reality of life overcoming death?
I don’t believe, I am to the measure that is possible. Here’s where I am curious. Am I / we not experiencing the power of resurrection, its magnificence and majesty, because we do not experience deeply the power of the cross?
Some may say, "I don’t have to experience the cross. Jesus did that for me. He did that as me."
I love what my friend Arun Joseph posted on social media today, "Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.'”Matt 16:24 NIV. It's not only substitution, but participation.
Paul prayed that we would experience the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. Paul would also write that we have been given the Spirit of Adoption, where we are no longer slaves to fear, but we can, with confidence and joy, cry out “Daddy God.” But it doesn’t end there, he goes on to say, “if indeed we share in his sufferings we will also share in his glory.”
Sufferings is Good Friday. Glory is Resurrection Sunday.
Good Friday is bloody.
Good Friday is messy.
Good Friday is insanity. Scattered followers. Grieving mother. Gambling murderers. Bewildered onlookers. Joyful religious zealots. Indifferent Roman government.
Good Friday shakes the earth.
Good Friday is wildly unreasonable. Loss. Rejection. Pain.
Good Friday is the precursor to Resurrection Sunday.
Good Friday is a spectacle. It’s visually striking. Many think the spectacle is the death of an innocent man; one who claimed to be one with God. The real spectacle was against the powers and forces that rage their hatred against mankind; the image bearers of the glory of God. Our presence taunts the enemy. Our presence reminds him of what he lost when he rebelled against God. Our presence is salt in his eye; alcohol in his wounds. We torment and torture the enemy by our presence because we are the image bearers of God. Yet, he works tirelessly to destroy and to distort makind so that we do not reveal the glory of God any longer. We are unrecognizable because of sin’s torture. We are scarred. Named. Without recognition. But the act of Good Friday is the act of God, washing the earth of her sins and providing redemption for anyone who wants it. It’s an act of love so scandalous that we can’t believe it and if we want to believe it, we sanitize it to make it more paletable. When I look at my life and look at the brutality and inhumanness of the cross, it confronts my casual living. It confronts how I manage my stuff. It confronts my attitude, my beliefs, my convictions. I am held to account for my life when I look at the cross. I can’t get rid of the cross. It’s an historical reality. Cable news shows are talking about it. Churches are talking about it. We sell chocolate bunnies because of it.
We have commercialized it. Sanitized it. Ignored it. Shrunken it. Devalued it. Explained it. Disregarded it. Marketed it. But have we embraced it? Have you embraced a love so radical - that Christ was brutalized and died so bloody, so swollen, so puffed by His physical body responding to torture? Have you said yes in such a way, that your heart is ripped open by this Divine act of love? Are we waking to America’s sanitized version of Christianity that fits neatly in our Christian book stores and book shelves, but does not fit neatly in our hearts, because it confronts and makes us uncomfortable?
Good Friday irritates. It irritates the lazy soul and arouses it to wake up. Wake up from this mindless living - work, home, dinner, tv, bed, work, home, dinner, tv, bed… vacation… work, home, dinner, tv, bed, work, home, dinner, tv, bed...
Isaiah 52:14, “But many were amazed when they saw him. His face was so disfigured he seemed hardly human, and from his appearance, one would scarcely know he was a man.” NLT
How can this be good?
“‘Take and eat; this is my body. Taking the cup and giving thanks, he offered it to them saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured our for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ (Matthew 26:26-28) And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup saying, ’This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’ (Luke 22:19-20)
Hebrews 8:13, “By calling this covenant ‘new,’ he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”
What does “it is finished mean?”
Death of Jesus was the death of death.
Death of sin is what we call our behavior when we fill our disconnection from God with idolatry. Sin is the bowing down to things that we adore or need, more than God.
Death of separation.
What is the new and better covenant?
Darkness covered the earth.
Earthquakes shook as the glorious and majestic Christ entered the earth.
Romans 8 - all of creation waiting for the emergence of son’s and daughters. I‘ve often thought of creation as that outside of mankind. But mankind is part of creation. Mankind is waiting for the emergence of sons and daughters. That is to say, what happens to me when sons and daughters arise? Not just what happens to the environment, but what happens sociologically, environmentally, socially, judicially, economically, politically?
I was driving the other day, near the big box stores and I was sitting at a red light. And walking across the street was a dad, with his backpack, and his little boy with a backpack on, sitting on the father’s shoulders. Not unusual to see that, but uncommon to see it there. I thought - that’s what Jesus did. He carried the cross, nailed to the cross, unable to get down by His own power, hanging there by the power of His own will and the power of the nails, the hammer and the wood. Jesus carried the cross so He could carry you. Life is dangerous; like the road to a little boy. Maybe the little boy could cross on his own, but it would be by the courtesy of the drivers. Life is not so kind. It strikes its mighty blows of death, addiction, pain, rejection and loss. Yet, Christ strikes a greater blow.
Colossians 2:13-15, “You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. 14He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15In this way, he disarmedd the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”
As we sit on this Good Friday, I invite you to meditate upon how the cross -
- Unveils the ugliness of human violence.
- Reveals the beauty of God’s forgiving love.
- Reminds us of how God in Christ shares our pain.
- Shows us the beauty of Christ that saves the world.
*some thoughts were gleaned from Brian Zahnd's website.