Friday, March 21, 2008

What's so Good about Friday?

Good Friday. What an ironic term. It's a term used to commemorate the day Jesus was brutally tortured and murdered by Roman soldiers. Now, some might say that brutal is a bit too harsh of a term to use when speaking of Jesus, but let's review what really happened.

Very late the night before He was crucified, Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray. The Bible says that "being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." (Luke 22:44) This means Jesus was under the most extreme amount of stress imaginable. He knew what was about to happen and didn't want to go through it, but He knew He had to. As He was going back to pray more, after waking up the sleeping disciples to tell them to pray, Jesus was arrested and wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death. When a criminal was convicted of a crime punishable by death, that person would undergo some of the most horrendous treatment ever known to man. Roman soldiers knew how to kill a man and make it last for a very long time. It began with a scourging. A mob of men beat Him and pulled out His beard, which was an enormous insult in that culture, not to mention painful. Then they stripped Him naked, shackled His hands above His head, shackled His feet to the ground, and began to beat Him with a "cat-of-nine-tails," which is basically an ancient meat tenderizer. A handle with strips of leather that had metal balls and hooks made of metal or bone attached to the leather that would pulverize and rip His flesh from His body. This would send Him into shock. Many men died from the scourging and did not even make it to the cross. Such was not the case for Jesus.
The soldiers strapped a large log of Roman timber to Jesus' exposed back and expected Him to carry it up the hill to be crucified, but the weight and the splintering wood was just too much to bear. He collapsed under the strain, so one of His disciples helped to carry the cross to the place of His crucifixion. The soldiers placed a crown of thorns into Jesus' head which made Him bleed even more. They posted a placard above His head in mockery that said "King of the Jews," in Aramaic. He was already unrecognizable from the beatings and scourging. This just added more insult to more injury. They took long spikes and drove them into His hands (probably at the wrists) and feet. They fixed the log He had carried to a cross-bar, raised Him up, and dropped the whole cross, with Jesus nailed to it, into a hole in the ground. Surely, the impact jarred His body significantly.
As Jesus hung there, gasping for breath, bleeding, sweating, dying, one of the thieves who was crucified with Him mocked Him loudly. "But the other criminal rebuked him. `Don't you fear God,' he said, `since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then He said `Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, `I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.'" (Luke 23:40-43) Jesus remained pure, holy, faithful, loving, compassionate even up to the point of His death.
As He came to the end of His life, He felt for a brief moment what it was to live without God. The Father turned His back on His Son, allowing Him a glimpse of Hell. "Jesus cried out in a loud voice, `Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' --which means, `My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?' With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how He died, he said, `Surely this man was the Son of God!'"(Mark 15:34, 37-39)
The temple curtain being torn in two was so significant. It meant that there was no more waiting room to get to God. Before, only certain people (Levitical priests) were allowed to enter into the inmost part of the temple at certain appointed times to be in the presence of the glory of God and to offer sacrifices for atonement from sin. Now, we are all invited to approach His throne as often as we please. Jesus became our sacrifice when He was crucified and died. He became our Savior when He fulfilled the rest of His prophecy and rebuilt the temple three days later by rising from the dead. He is now our temple, the Savior of the world, our risen King!

So what's so good about Friday? Sunday! That's the day my King rose from the dead, defeated the grave, and brought hope and salvation to the world! Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and arose on the third day for the remission of our sins. That's the gospel truth! If you don't believe it, I'ma keep praying for you. Jesus wants you to seek Him so you can receive His grace and His salvation. He wants to take you to Heaven for all eternity. There is no better time than the present to let Him do that. Right now! Let Him be your Savior! If you need to talk about it, come find me. I'll be around. I know from experience that it's the greatest decision you could ever make, but the choice is solely yours. No one Else's. I'm begging you, if you haven't already made the choice to follow Christ, please consider what He went through for you and me. He loves you so much more than you know.

Peace, Love, and Chocolate