Friday, March 25, 2016

It's Friday

It’s Good Friday.

It’s the day set apart to remember the death of the Savior, the murdering of the Messiah.

It started in a dark garden, where the disciples slept and Jesus was so anxious that He couldn’t.

It’s the day that the carpenter’s Son from Nazareth was tried, accused, and convicted of sin, though He had done nothing wrong.

It’s the day that the religious and governmental officials, led astray by their wicked and deceitful hearts, abused and made a mockery of the spotless Lamb.

It’s the day that the Christ allowed Himself to be nailed to a Roman cross, that He might endure the sufferings of others.

It’s the day that the infinitely precious blood of the Messiah poured down as the only sacrifice that could appease God’s wrath.

It’s the day Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” and breathed His last.

It’s the day that God brought His 33-year use of a mortal body to an end.

It’s Good Friday.

*****

Jesus, God the Son, the Maker of heaven and earth, has known from all eternity the things that would happen. He rules the nations, He understands the hearts of men, and He has set the future.

When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, nothing surprised Him.

Though just hours before entering the Garden Peter had said, “I will never fall away,” Jesus knew he would. As the words were coming out of Peter’s mouth, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You,” Jesus knew that he would.

When Christ specifically chose Peter, James, and John to come with Him to pray in the Garden, He knew they would fall asleep and fail to support Him. The Son of Man was aware of every detail.

Before they went to Gethsemane, the disciples were with Jesus eating together. He instituted the Lord’s Supper, communion, and revealed just how much He knew. He fully understood the dealings Judas had made behind His back, agreeing to set Jesus up for arrest in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.

At this supper, Jesus said to His disciples, “One of you will betray Me.”

“Rabbi, I’m not the one, am I?” asked Judas.

Jesus replied, “You have said so.”

Yet we still find Jesus with the other disciples in the Garden. Though He knew Judas was – in those exact moments – leading a cohort of Roman soldiers and religious officials through the dark night to His location, He didn’t leave. Though He knew the day and hour of His death, He wasn’t trying to avoid it. Christ stayed where He was, fully knowing what was about to happen.

Because of these things, He told His disciples that His soul was “swallowed up in sorrow – to the point of death.”  

His prayer was simple: “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as you will.”

Again He prayed: “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.”

Luke’s gospel says, “Being in anguish, He prayed more fervently, and His sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

With the sun still hours from rising to shed light on a day full of grief for the Messiah, Jesus was full of angst, alone among His disciples before His Father. His anxiety was high yet His request was simple: Let Me avoid Your wrath if at all possible.

The Son of God did not deserve the forthcoming wrath. The Father’s punishment for sinners does not apply to Jesus because He is, was, and always will be the sinless Savior. He was fully undeserving of the cup of God’s judgment, as He, being God, has a spotless nature, free from all evil.

So this cup of judgment was not set to come upon Christ because of anything He had done. It came upon Him so that He could, once for all, be the sacrifice that joins sinful men to a holy God.

In the First Covenant, men were reliant on the blood of goats and bulls to appease the wrath of God for a time. They were instructed by God to participate in the Day of Atonement, the day when the high priest would enter into the holy place with the blood of a sacrificed animal. He would sprinkle the blood on the mercy seat and God would recognize this act as a sufficient covering for His people.

The Messiah came to earth as both the final High Priest and the final Sacrifice. Christ, who lives eternally in holiness, took on flesh, led God’s chosen, and showed them the Father. He lived a perfect life, free from all sin, and laid His life down for His blood to be shed. Jesus is the Great High Priest and the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He is eternally Savior.

Part of Christ’s prayer, as noted, was a request for deferral. He pleaded with His Father, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from Me.” He went on to pray, “If this cup cannot go away unless I drink it, let Your will be done.”

This cup certainly could not have been taken away from Him. He is the Christ, the ordained Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. There is no other person in the entire spectrum of existence, across all galaxies in our universe, who is able to take away sin. There was never any other time in history, nor will there ever be such a time again, that sins could finally be paid for once for all. He was the only One who could rightfully endure the cup of God’s judgment with the purpose of bringing sinners to Him.

“For Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.”

And this is the meaning of Good Friday: a Person. The Person of Christ.

This exchange between God the Son and God the Father has not been preserved so that men can use their own wisdom to get to heaven. Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22, and John 18 do not exist for the purpose of men finding their own way to God.

These passages, as with all of Scripture, are “a lamp shining in a dark place,” which were written by men who “spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Good Friday was preceded by the Garden. And there are three things that the Garden distinctly tells us.

The Garden tells us that heaven is exclusive. There was no other way for all sins to be paid for – it was only through Christ. Therefore, the Person of Christ is the key to heaven’s door. He alone is the pathway to God’s home. He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” He Himself has said, “No one can come to the Father except through Me.”

The Garden tells us that our efforts are not enough. Men are unable to pay the price for their own sin because God’s punishment is always death. Yahweh told His people long ago, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”

The author of Hebrews has said it this way: “Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” Christ’s anguish over His coming death, His submission to God’s will, His faithfulness in obedience to the end, His willingness to bear the weight of the world’s disobedience – it all tells us that our efforts are not enough. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sins. He alone can make a covering for us.

The Garden tells us that we’re not as good as we think we are. Peter believed he would follow Jesus until the end. In his heart, he thought he would follow Christ without wavering. Deep down he knew he was good enough to stick with God. Peter did not know himself.

He was unable to honor God, even in the midst of the exclusive opportunities Jesus gave him. He was unable to stay awake in Gethsemane. He was unable to trust the Messiah’s words about His impending execution. He was unable to stand up for the Savior when questioned. He was completely unable to save himself.

It’s easy to look at Judas and blame him, but Peter was also a type of Judas.

And the cross shouts to us that we’re all guilty, each of us is a type of Judas. Each of us was separated from God in Adam. Each of us has gone astray; each of us has turned to his own way. But the Lord caused all of our sins to fall on Jesus Christ, that we might be saved through Him. The Ultimate Person.

We’re worse than we think we are. Jesus is higher than we think He is. Redemption for this life and the next is found in Him alone. Would you submit to Him today?

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