Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday

I'll never forget when Noah was about seven or eight, he asked me on this day, "Mom, why do they call this day Good Friday, when it was the day Jesus was crucified on the cross?"  I thought that was such a great and wise question from such a young person.  I told him the answer was because the day was good because Jesus didn't stay dead. 

Before I start, I want to let you know that there are certain people I'm writing this for.  It's for the ones who I know who may see it on social media, who are not believers.  I don't just mean they're not believers in that they don't believe in God; I mean they've never placed their faith in God and they've never surrendered their lives over to Him.  One way a friend of mine always put it when he was the children's pastor at our church is that when you do this, believe and place your faith in Jesus, that He becomes the boss of your life.  If this is you and you're reading this, I am praying for you right this very moment. 

I'll start at the beginning and show you an illustration that Noah drew several years ago.

When God created this world at the very beginning of the Bible in Genesis, He made it perfect.  This is the story of creation in Genesis, and God walked among Adam and Eve in the garden.  They had their pick of any tree to eat from in the garden except for one~the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  A serpent (Satan) came and tempted Eve, though, asking if God had REALLY said not to eat from that tree, and when she justified that surely He had not meant what He said, she took some of the fruit and ate.  She convinced Adam to do the same, and the minute he did, their eyes were opened and they were aware of their nakedness, or shame.  And that minute that their eyes were opened and they were aware of this, that is when sin entered into the world.  God called for them and asked why they were hiding.  When they said it was because they were naked, He asked them who told them that.  He knew, though.  We read that God made them coverings to wear, and that is when we first see that the blood of the innocent must be shed to atone for the guilty.  Meaning that when that innocent animal was found by God, He killed the animal and skinned it to make coverings for Adam and Eve.  The animal had been innocent, Adam and Even were not, but He made those covering to cover their shame.

The perfect world before sin is represented by that circle with the heart inside of it.  Looking from there to the right, that is when sin entered in, and this is where we've been trying to get back to perfection since those days of creation.  The arrows you see on that top circle on the right are ways we've tried to fill up the void in our lives caused by sin.  Have you ever heard the phrase that everyone is born with a God-sized hole in their heart?  Nothing but Him could ever fill that hole, and the same is true for us trying to fill up our sinful lives with other things to cover up that sinfulness in our lives. 

The next circle on the bottom is where Jesus entered the picture. 

If you read in Genesis, you'll see that Jesus was always around even from the beginning of creation.  You'll see the usage of words like "we" and I believe that it is the Trinity that is talked about there, and scholars agree, or maybe it's that I agree with scholars.  The Trinity is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and while I'll probably never understand all of this until the day I get to Heaven, they are all One and the same.  Jesus left the glory of Heaven to be born of a woman and to enter into the world as a baby.  He grew up like you and I did~He had other siblings and He had to learn to walk and to talk, but He never sinned.  He was perfect.  He was different, and I love the recounting of how when they were making a pilgrimage back home, His parents couldn't find Him and it was because He had never left the synagogue.  He chose to stay behind and to sit among the teachings of the rabbis in that day and time.  He did leave, though and go back home with his mom and stepdad.  (Have you thought of that before, that Jesus's Father was God, making Joseph His stepdad?) 

When He was around the age of thirty-three, He was betrayed by one of His disciples (Judas Iscariot) and handed over to governing officials to be tried and crucified on a cross, and though Pilate wanted to let Him go, the people chose to save a criminal and crucify Jesus.  And He willingly went to the cross, because He always knew that would be what would happen.  He went like a lamb to be slaughtered, we read in Isaiah 53, and He endured the shame of the cross.  He could have escaped it any time, He could have spoken one word and the whole crowd could have been obliterated in one second, but He hung there and when He cried out to ask God His Father why had He forsaken Him, it was then that we see that God poured out His wrath upon His innocent Son and Jesus breathed His last breath and released His Spirit back into Heaven. 

It's then that we read that the earth shook and the curtain was torn into, and that is when a high priest was no longer needed.  Until that time, in order to access the Father, a high priest was needed to enter into the Holy of the Holies in the tabernacle, but the second Jesus breathed His last breath, that curtain dividing the Holy of Holies from the other parts of the tabernacle was torn into.  We read about the recounting of this in Matthew 27:11-54 or in three of the other gospels. 

This is where Good Friday comes in, because He didn't stay dead!  When one of the women went to check on His tomb, Mary Magdelene found that where they had placed His body inside and rolled a stone in place of the opening, that the stone had been rolled away and the tomb was empty.  He had risen from the dead and appeared again on earth for a short while and walked among the disciples, and then He ascended into Heaven.  And it's where He is right now~sitting at the right hand of the throne of God.  Scripture tells us that He intercedes on our behalf.  He won't stay in Heaven~someday He will return once more to the earth, and that is when His second coming will occur.  Revelation tells us that when that day comes, He will come riding in on a white horse, and the words "FAITHFUL" and "TRUE" will be written on his thighs.  And someday, we will reign with Him in the millenial kingdom, or the "new Heaven".  When that happens, the earth will once again be like it was when God created it~it will be perfect and without sin.  That's where those arrows lead you back to in that picture that Noah drew. 

What does all that have to do with having a relationship with Jesus, you wonder?  Well, first you must believe that all of this is true.  For the skeptical person, who wonders if I'm wrong about all this...wouldn't you rather to believe and have faith like me, than to NOT believe and not have faith  and find out I was right?  Secondly, you must acknowledge that you're a sinner.  In Romans, we read that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  Sinners need forgiveness, and that's when you would ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin, to change you, and to give you a "new" heart.  And then you just place your faith in God.  You believe all of this to be true, and you start praying and reading your Bible.  Much like a friend must communicate with another friend to have a relationship, so it is with us in our relationship with Jesus.  He speaks to us through His word and He hears every prayer we utter.

Know this: the Bible is clear about what happens after death.  You'll either go to Heaven, or you will go to Hell.  Hell is real, and it is a place of unending torment forever and ever.  It is an easy choice, in my humble opinion.  Why not trust me and act today?  Let TODAY be the day of your salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).  Life is still going to be full of ups and downs~just because I'm a believer doesn't mean I don't struggle.  I still have issues with anxiety from time to time, I may experience trauma of some sort in my life, but here is the difference: I know that even in spite of all that I struggle with or all that could happen, God is good, He is sovereign, and He loves me.  And for the ones who have died before me and who had faith like I do, I know that I will see them again!  Isn't that sweet and full of hope?  Life with Jesus is hard still at times.  But life without Him?  Oh, friend.  It would be impossible.  I cannot even imagine living one minute of this life without Him.  He is my hope, my salvation, and I trust Him and His perfect plan. 

I leave you with a couple of questions, and after that, a powerful video. 

If you died today, where would you go?  Heaven or Hell.  Think about it, and if you feel a quickening in your heart or spirit, that could be the Holy Spirit drawing you to Him.  I would love to pray with you or for you, if that's you.  Reach out in any way you choose to, I promise to stop whatever I'm doing and talk. 

Is anyone reading this that is a believer, though, and struggling in their faith?  Have you neglected your relationship with Him, or just not walking with Him on a daily basis?  Or are you stuck in a rut and haven't thought about Him in years?  If it is, take some time right now to pray and renew your relationship with Him.  Ask Him to help you have a fresh start with Him.  And commit today to start over in your walk with Him, making Him the priority once more.

I have so much more to say, but I'll wrap this up.  If you need some help with what comes next, I can help there, too.  Just reach out to me or to someone. 

For that video, click here to watch it and spend some time with the Lord today.  For the rest of you still around, I want to encourage you to read in one of Gospels about the recounting of all that took place on this day a couple thousand years ago.  Google it or use that reference in Matthew I mentioned in one of the paragraphs above.  And spend some time with God today, thanking Him for all that He did for you and for me.  It was our sin that held him that cross, He literally took the weight of the sin of the world upon His shoulders so that we could live with Him someday eternally.  And though thank you might seem inadequate, say it anyway and really ponder what took place.  Just a hint, though: if you make it through that recounting of His crucifixion without shedding tears, read it again and again and again until the gravity of His death hits you.  Maybe read it out loud a few times...I promise, you will see more clearly what He did for us when you really take the time to consider. 

Listen to some Good Friday worship music today~Spotify has several playlists to choose from.  The point is, spend some time with Him today.

Love to all. 

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