Friday, April 2, 2010

Passion Week: Friday

It was a long bus ride. I was part of a youth mission team on our way back from Peoria, Illinois and I was hungry for the Lord. Someone put in my hands a copy of the first non-fiction book I had ever read voluntarily. I devoured it on that ride home. The book was “Six hours One Friday” by Max Lucado. It was, no surprise, all about the Cross of Christ.  It was and still is a good read.
Today is the day that we focus, perhaps more intentionally than any other day, on the Cross. We focus on those six hours that Jesus hung there and all that transpired as a result. Indeed, the Cross is THE focal point for the believer, and we use this day as a tool to make sure it remains in its place of prominence.  It is good to use this day thusly, for I fear that our emphasis on the Cross all to often reflects the above picture. We say that it is central but in how we think, feel, and act in the moment by moment practicalities of life we often have to strain hard for the cross to come into focus.
So today as I am out shopping for an Easter tie I want the Cross to consume me. One of the most helpful ways, I have found, to reach this desired end is to meditate on the 7 sayings of Jesus from that 6 hour Cross:
·      A WORD OF FORGIVENESS – Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Luke 23:34)
 If anyone every had a right to wallow in His own self pity and simply nurse His wounds and die it was Jesus. This is not, however, the picture we get at all. Indeed His first words are the epitome of mercy (not giving something that which is deserved…. In this case judgment). Jesus is here practicing what He preached. His enemies persecuted and He prays for them (Lk. 6:27-28)
·      A WORD OF PROMISE – [to the repentant thief] I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise (LK. 23:43)
“The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day; and there may I , though vile as he, wash all my sin away. Wash all my sin away.”
The promise of paradise is simply amazing, but what makes it so amazing is that Jesus is going to be there. “You will be with ME…” What makes it even more amazing is that this thief went “immediately” to this Jesus dwelling paradise.
·      A WORD OF CONCERN – Woman, behold your son; Son, behold your mother… (John 19:26-27)
Mary had not paid a dime to social security. In her day and in her culture her sons would be her social security and IRA and everything else. They would be the ones to take care of her when she could not herself.  Jesus, amazingly, is providing (as any good first -born would) for His mother even when He suffers excruciation pain and suffering.  When Jesus is dying on the cross, however, none of Mary’s other sons were believing in Jesus. Jesus, therefore, chose John to take care of His mother. I believe this signifies at least two things:
1.     Jesus considers being united to Him in faith a more solid bond then one can have with even blood ties. Jesus would rather entrust His mother to believing John with no blood relation than to unbelieving Jude or James who, like Him, came from Mary’s womb. This speaks volumes about how Jesus thinks we should  treat each other in the body.
2.     The old adage has some truth to it, “While He was on the Cross, I was on His mind.” Well, at least Mary was on His mind, however I think we can extend the principal out to ourselves and all believers as well. At the very least here we have yet another image of Jesus being concerned about others even in the throes of His own suffering.
·      A WORD OF DESPAIR (Matthew 27:45-46) – My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
The whole New Testament answers this question. As the song goes, “I’m forgiven because You were forsaken. I’m accepted, You were condemned…” No one reading this has ever known what it feels like to be “God forsaken”. Jesus alone has known that feeling, and He felt it so that we never have to feel it!
·      A WORD OF FULFILLMENT (John 19:28) – I thirst
IT is ironic that the One who promises living waters to bubble up within a person (John 7:37) would Himself thirst. This word, however, is not just a word of irony. If one were to study the accounts of the crucifixion with Psalm 22 one would see a major overlap. It is as if Jesus was meditating on and fulfilling Psalm 22 with every act and word on the cross. Psalm 22:15 says, “my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth…” Amongst other things, Jesus was intentionally fulfilling Scripture on the Cross! He is truly the ONE whom all the Law and the Prophets pointed toward!
·      A WORD OF TRIUMPH (John 19:30) – It is Finished
What is the “It” he refers to? God’s work of redemption is what Jesus is referring to. Because He was forsaken in my place I can now be acceptable in the sight of God. This is what makes “Good Friday” good. Without this and it would be “Tragic Friday”. Jesus’ mission, however, was a successes. The Greek word is just one word and carriers the meaning of “Paid in full”. The CROSS was all the payment we needed for our sins. The way has now been opened decisively.
·      A WORD OF SURRENDER (LK. 23:46)
None of the gospel writers say that Jesus “died”. It seems like they are deliberately avoiding the word. Death did not claim Him as a victim; Jesus seized death as a Victor and the gospel writers want us to be clear on this! His death was totally voluntary and totally at His disposal to the very last breathe. 

1 comment:

teresa pugh said...

Thank you David for again starting my day with focus. Overwhelming pity, grace unknown and love beyond degree. Yes, Good Friday is more than good. It is amazing.