What’s So Good About Good Friday?

What is so good about Good Friday?

Have you ever considered this question? Have you perchance asked this question of someone? There are all sorts of “good Fridays.” There is rejoicing because Friday, for most, is the last day of the work week, and the next two days are days to relax or take care of other things that you need to tend to. There are the Fridays that lead to extended weekends. We all love those 3 or 4 day weekends. There are those Fridays that are actually a Thursday. You know, you have Friday off so Thursday is your Friday. There is Black Friday. That’s a really good one. Just think of all the great deals you get.

However, there is only one Friday that is “Good Friday.” Why is it “Good Friday?” Jesus was arrested, tortured, beaten, spat upon, mocked, and so much more. He was hung on a cruel and rough hewn cross after having been tortured and having carried His cross through the crowded streets. He was nailed to the cross through His wrists and feet. He was bleeding, bruised, beaten. How can you call this good?

Before any of this, Jesus was in the Garden with His disciples. He asked them to wait and pray with Him. He went off to talk to His Father. When He returned they had fallen asleep. This was repeated 3 times. One of His very own betrayed Him to the soldiers to be arrested and dragged off. He was denied by another of His disciples 3 different times after pledging his undying love and following. How can you call this good?

Yet in the Garden, Jesus prayed, “…My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39, NASB) He came and checked on His disciples, found them sleeping, woke them up, admonished them, and went off once again. Once again He prayed to His Father, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it. Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) How can you call this good?

We can call this good. God is so good. It’s hard to understand. From our human point of view we have trouble reconciling all of this with the fact that we call this Good Friday. Oh, my friend, this IS Good Friday. Did you read those words that Jesus said to His Father? “Your will be done.” Jesus told God, “I don’t necessarily want to do it this way. It’s going to hurt bad, but God, I want to do your will.” It is good because it was for you and me that He did this. God loves you so much that He sent His Son to die for you and for me. It is good because Jesus willingly walked the path to the cross to pay the price for our sins.

My friend, the best is yet to come though. S.M. Lockridge coined the phrase, “It’s Friday but Sunday’s comin’.” If we didn’t have Good Friday, we wouldn’t be able to have Resurrection Sunday. Because of Good Friday, we have the opportunity to repent of our sins and accept Christ’s finished work on Calvary. We have the opportunity to go to heaven one day. There was a price that needed to be paid. Jesus paid that price. We have a sales slip so to speak with all our sins listed. When Jesus died that sales slip was stamped, “Paid in Full.”

So here is the most wonderful part: Jesus ROSE from the dead!. He did not stay dead but He arose. He is alive. Jesus bears the marks of our sins upon His body, but my friend, He is alive!
So what’s so good about Good Friday.

The answer is pure and simple: Because of Good Friday, we have Resurrection Sunday and the opportunity to live forever in Heaven with the One who loved us so very much that He did this for us.

Have you received Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life? Do you know that one day you will live in Heaven? If you can’t answer yes, please contact us, and we can help you know how this promise can be yours. God is good all the time, and He wants you to share everlasting life with Him in heaven.

Have a blessed Good Friday and Easter.

Praising God this Palm Sunday

On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.’” “For this reason also the people went and met Him, because they heard that He had performed this sign.” (John 12:12-13, 18)

They took the palm branches to meet Jesus. They went to praise and adore Him. Why? The Bible tells us it was because of the mighty deeds He had done. The people of Israel had seen all the things He did, all the miracles He performed. They spent time with Him. Many came to see what else He would do. I imagine that many came thinking He was going to overthrow Rome and be their ruler. Verses 14-15 read, “Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written ‘Fear not daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” Whatever their reasoning for this display, they sang praises to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is and was Messiah.

Sometimes we hear these stories and think, “Well, I know that. What can you tell me that is new?” Let me challenge you to view this Palm Sunday with a new perspective. The story holds true and it never changes. It is God’s word. However, maybe we can change our heart as we celebrate the beginning of Holy Week.

Praise to the King. The people sang “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” “Hosanna is used to express adoration, praise, or joy (especially in biblical, Judaic, and Christian use).” It is defined as “an expression of adoration, praise or joy” [1]( Internet Dictionary)Jesus is the King of Kings. There is none other like Him. He is loving, just, caring, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, faithful, and holy, just to name a few. Spend some time in worship praising the Lord for Who He is.

Adoration. While praise is defined in the internet dictionary as “the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something,”[2] adoration is defined as “deep love and respect and worship. Synonyms include worship, glorify, praise, revere, reverence, exalt, laud, extol, esteem, pay homage to.”[3] Adoration goes deeper. It brings us to the very throne of God. In the Christmas story, we see the wise men (magi) coming to “adore” the baby Jesus. Do we have that kind of deep love for Jesus? When we spend time with Jesus do we want to fall to our knees in worship and adoration?

Lifting holy hands. In I Timothy 2:1-8 we read, “I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” “Then Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God. And all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen!’ while lifting up their hands; and they knelt down and worshiped the Lord with their faces toward the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:6) “Let my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.” (Psalm 141:2)

In each of these verses, we see that the lifting of hands is equal to an offering of praise and worship to God. Some of us feel awkward at lifting our hands in public worship. It makes me wonder why? Why do we shy away from it? Are we simply afraid of what those around us may think? We need to realize that this is an act of worship. This worship is to God. May I challenge you on this Palm Sunday, this first day of the Holy Week, when you spend time with your Creator and Savior in praise and adoration to allow yourself to raise your hands as an act of worship?

Marvel. Dictionary.com defines marvel as “to be filled with wonder, admiration, or astonishment, as at something surprising or extraordinary.”[4] Have you ever been to the Grand Canyon in Arizona? I have once. I remember the moment I laid on eyes on it. I wanted to cry and sing and praise God all at the same time. In fact I started singing How Great Thou Art and How Great is Our God. My heart was so full that all I could do was pour out all I was feeling in worship of the One who created that magnificent sight. I marveled at it.

Do we marvel at God and all He has done? When we see God working in our lives and the lives of those around us do we say ‘I know that was you God” or do we think, cool? We need to make sure our praise and thanksgiving goes where it belongs. “…Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!” (Revelation 15:3)

As we celebrate Palm Sunday may each of us come in Praise and Adoration, lifting holy hands as we Marvel at all God has done and continues do in our lives. Hallelujah to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

 

Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible® (NASB), Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org

1 Hosanna
2 Praise
3 Adoration
Marvel

Easter 2018

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.
(Matthew 28:5-6)

Don’t be alarmed…
You are looking for Jesus,
the Nazarene, who was crucified.
He has risen!
(Mark 16:6)

Why do you look for the living
among the dead?
He is not here;
he has risen!
(Luke 24:6)

I have seen the Lord!
(John 20:18)

It is true!
The Lord has risen…
(Luke 24:34)

We have seen the Lord!
(John 20:25)

Why are you troubled,
and why do doubts rise in your minds?
Look at my hands and my feet.
It is I myself!
(Luke 24:39)

…blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have believed.
(John 20:29)

 

 

 

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ 

Darkness Falls

Last Supper.

Garden Prayer.

Betrayal.

Arrest.

Mocked.

Beaten.

Spit on.

Insulted.

Denial.

Trial.

False accusations.

Questions.

Ridicule.

Not guilty.

Crucify him!

Stripped.

Scarlet robe.

Crown of thorns.

Mocked.

Stripped.

Beaten.

Burden of the cross.

Place of the Skull.

Hands pierced with nails.

Feet pierced with nails.

Slowly dying.

Agony.

King of the Jews.

Cursed.

Defended.

Forgave.

Forsaken.

Broken-hearted.

Breathless.

Dead.

3 hours of darkness.

Earthquake.

Temple curtain torn.

Acknowledged.

Side pierced.

Blood poured out.

Legs broken.

Buried.

Night comes.

Darkness falls.

Foolish or Faithful

This year Ash Wednesday fell on Valentine’s Day, and now Easter will fall on April Fool’s Day. Two Christian holidays overlapping two non-religious holidays. This year I can’t avoid talking about the irony of Easter being on what the world celebrates as a day for acting like a fool.

Easter is the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, the source of our faith. It is a day of faith and love. At almost the opposite end of the spectrum, April Fool’s Day is a holiday giving opportunity to play pranks and jokes on people, a day of fools and folly.

Christians celebrate Easter on the Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. This is why it changes each year. We don’t have an exact date when Jesus died on the cross, but we do know that his death was on a Friday around Passover which makes three days later the Sunday after the vernal equinox full moon.

The origin of April Fool’s Day is debated. Some people believe that it dates back to 1582 when France switched to the Gregorian calendar from the Julian calendar. On the Julian calendar, New Year’s day was celebrated around April 1 and with the Gregorian it was changed to the current date of January 1. When people celebrated the beginning of a new year on April 1 that year, they were called fools. And you could say the rest is history.

So now that I have the when explained, I want to talk a bit about what Easter is and why it is marginalized and commercialized by so many. I believe 1 Corinthians 2:14 explains it perfectly. It states “The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.”

In contrast to “the person without the Spirit”, a person with the Spirit is a born-again Christian. Someone who has been sealed by the Holy Spirit because they have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. God has the Holy Spirit speak to us to give us his wisdom and guidance as told in John 16:13-14 (Jesus speaking), “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you.”

Why do some “not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God”? In my experience the things of God have been the exact opposite of my selfish desires so I considered them utter foolishness. I thought why would I want to do something that would get me nowhere, give me no credit, and give me nothing tangible? I was fooled by the commercialized fun of April Fool’s Day and the sweet treasures of the Easter bunny. The bigger the trick the better the fun. And I didn’t know anyone who didn’t love to be the “winner” by finding the most eggs and getting the biggest basket with the best gifts.

Then somewhere in my 20s I started wanting something more. I started questioning if there was more to this man they call God. Being raised by parents who only followed a worldly religion of celebrating commercial holidays, I was only exposed to the storybook fantasy of a god who swoops in and saves the day. I soon found myself disappointed and lost when my sinful actions took over my life. I questioned the purpose of life. I began to regret the wasted time I spent living for myself.

I became a Christian in my 30th year of life. That’s a LOT of years following only my selfish desires and having little regard to how I achieved them. I started accepting the truths of God because I was able to discern them from lies but only after I accepted that life on earth was hopeless without the guidance and wisdom from my Creator. I began to realize that I was trapped by thinking I was a pretty good person and didn’t need anyone telling me any different. This selfishness was holding me back from healing from past hurts, overcoming strongholds, and most of all, it was keeping me stuck in sin. But as Jesus said, the Holy Spirit guided me through the muck and showed me that life is beautiful when you give it to God.

I am beyond thankful that God captured my heart. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect by any means. I still do foolish things but I have hope because Christ died on the cross, and God raised him three days later to then ascend to sit at His right hand. Why does that give me hope? Well frankly because I lived a full life without God as my savior and through his grace I survived. It is only because of God’s grace that I am alive and able to share my life with others. God is my father, Jesus is my savior and the Holy Spirit is my guide.

This Easter I’m guessing there will be parents pranking their children with tricks in their baskets. I pray that there are even more parents that glorify the name of God by sharing the true reason we celebrate Easter and how we can honor him for his sacrifices.

So how about you? Will you be foolish or faithful? I leave you with the encouraging words from 1 Peter 4:1-2, “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who suffers in the body is done with sin. As a result, they do not live the rest of his earthly lives for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

 

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/april-fools-tradition-popularized

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International version®. Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™