i am trying to take time to read through the passion of Christ in the four gospel accounts on an important day for our faith - good friday. the time of easter, the resurrection, the week of passover, this important time to everything we believe and base our lives on... how anchored are we in what it is really all about?
5 things i am thinking about on good friday
1. Lord i do believe, help my unbelief (mark 9:24). simply reading the story doesn't do much for my heart. i have to make a choice to believe it is real at the deepest level, and then ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen my faith. i don't want to read just another good story.
2. He really did die, and it was completely His choice. He turned the other cheek. God laid down His life for me. He didn't have to do it. He doesn't owe me anything.
3. the resurrection is everything. it wasn't just an arbitrary sign to help us believe that we are forgiven of sin. He rose from the dead and defeated death that we may be convinced that we too will rise in resurrected bodies... not as ghosts or spirits, but real living people who can eat and drink and live!
and He said to them, "why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? see My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." and when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. while they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "have you anything here to eat?" they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. luke 24:38-43
why does this matter? because He will restore what He has originally created the life of man to be like in the garden - eternal communion with God in real life.
4. although it is a free gift, it takes repentance and faith on our part to receive what Jesus paid for (acts 3:18-21 among other places). this is something that i have been taught since a child - God gave us free wills to either receive what He paid for or to refuse it. with all the buzz lately, even making the cover of time magazine, about whether hell is eternal, if everyone will eventually be saved, and what it really means to be saved i feel the weight of once again knowing what is truth. these ideas are nothing new. men has always wanted to do things our way, not God's way - it was the original sin. over and over again the Word says we must repent and we must believe - even confess Jesus as Messiah when it is going to cost us our lives (romans 10:9). there are not many ways and there are not many chances - we have this opportunity in this present time to receive what He has paid for.
Jesus said to make sure that no man deceives us - that many would come in His name saying that He is the Lord, but preach another gospel than He preached (matt 24). in the times we are living in, and i do believe this is a crucial hour, i do not want to entertain any vain ideas that would cause my heart to not run hard after knowing Him. Jesus, the One who loved us more than any man could or has ever loved, did not seem concerned with the message seeming too harsh but instead with the temptation we would have to become lawless and for our love to grow cold. it was Jesus Himself who spoke of the eternity of the lake of fire as clearly as He spoke of the eternity of life in resurrected bodies (matt 25:46 is just one reference among many). He said if we deny Him before man, He will deny us before the Father (matt 10:33). this sounds so harsh (i know, i feel the sting myself!), but if there comes a day when i am faced with death, with very martyrdom for worshiping Jesus, it will keep my life safe forever to remember these harsh words. there will be many more opportunities as life goes on to cheapen the price He paid, but i will not cheapen it. i will not get distracted in my pursuit of knowing Jesus nor in my prayer for people to repent and come to Him so they may know His forgiveness and life forever. He died because i need to be saved from eternal destruction. there is no other way than the way He plainly said. it is a narrow gate (matt 7:13-14). i will not deny Jesus and His sacrifice, even if it costs me favor with man.
5. He loves us more than we can imagine. one of the first scriptures that we usually memorize as children raised in the church is john 3:16. i would encourage you to read the entire 3rd chapter of john. God loves us. He really does love us. if there is one thing that i want to know in my heart of hearts today of all days, the day that He gave His life on a cross for me, it is to know how much He loves me. so like paul prayed for the church of ephesians, i pray for all of us today:
for this reason i bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. amen.
what are you thinking about in light of today and this resurrection weekend?