What’s So Good About Friday?
Have you ever wondered why we call the Friday before Easter ‘good’? Before I was a Christian, all I knew was that I didn’t have to go to school on that day or later, I didn’t have to work because of a Friday that was called ‘Good Friday”. It means so much more to me now.
In a nutshell, Good Friday marks the day when God’s wrath and God’s mercy met at the cross. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3).
I once heard someone say about Good Friday, “I’m not sure it was good.” I know what they meant. They meant that our Savior was brutally beaten and nailed to a cross to die on a Friday. What’s so good about that? I think the answer lies in my response. I said…
“It was good for us.”
Once I said that, it kind of stung a little. Although it is true, it made me think about what I just said. We deserve death for our sins, but God’s love and mercy for us was demonstrated to us in the suffering of Jesus. Is God a just God? Yes, look at the cross. Is God a loving God? Yes, look at the cross. Sin deserves death. Love requires sacrifice. Jesus satisfied all of God’s sin payment requirements through the cross – requirements that we could never bear. But it didn’t stop there.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
We also call it Good Friday because of the gift of peace with God that we received that day. I always say a special prayer on Good Friday. “Thank you, Lord, for loving me so much that you allowed Your Son to take my punishment and to bring me peace and healing through Him.”
How did Jesus feel about Good Friday? Although He knew the weight of what was about to take place, He was joyful! He knew of the scorn, shame, pain, and sorrow He was about to face, but He also kept the “joy set before Him” because He knew that in 3 days, the rock was gonna roll and that the gates of Heaven would be opened for those who believed in Him!
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We’re not done yet! It’s also the day that separation from God was destroyed (Matt. 27:51) and we were made friends with God. Think about that concept. Friends with the maker of the Universe!
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last.
Do you see Good Friday as a “good” day? Has Jesus washed away your sins and forgiven you? God has demonstrated His love for you in a way that’s beyond words. Indescribable, extravagant, no strings attached love. How will you respond to that type of love? I pray that you will respond by whispering this simple prayer:
9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
Have a blessed Resurrection weekend!
~Mark Clevenger, Worship Leader
Maundy Thursday is a day where we recognize the servanthood and humanity of Christ.
We begin to see the humble servanthood as Jesus was serving the Passover meal to His disciples. He used this time to explain what was about to take place. He used the bread as a symbol of His body being broken for us. He used the wine as an example of His blood that would be shed to cover our sin. As the evening went on, Jesus sat in peace at the Last Supper with the ones that would latter betray and abandon Him. As Jesus knew that His last hour on Earth was coming, He did something unexpected and typically reserved for the lowest of society.
John 13:3-17 CSB
3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Jesus, with a basin of water and a towel wrapped around His waist, wash the feet of those that were about to abandon Him. Why? Because He knew who He was. Even though a Savior, He was still human. He lived out His Holy Mission to serve others out of humble love.
Author and Pastor, Paul Tripp, said in order to accomplish this, “He had to be willing to enter the most lowly human condition to do the most debased thing and let go of his rights of position in order that we might be redeemed. It was a high and holy calling and it was the only way. His identity as Son of God did not lead him to be arrogant and entitled but it motivated him to do what His disciples were convinced was below them.” Jesus wasn’t interested in improving His welfare or status. He wanted to show grace, love, mercy, and servanthood. By washing their feet, Jesus taught the disciples, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
We are given the same riches of love and grace that Jesus taught and showed us. Because of this, we are called to the same high and holy calling of serving one another. To humble yourself in such a way is truly understanding that, “for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
How will you serve those in your workspace, home, or even coffee shops? How can the true riches of love and grace permeate our actions, interactions, and even differences? Humble love ought to dictate the way that we operate and even think. What if each day instead of asking, “How are you?”, passively we ask, “How can I serve you?” And what if we actually serve each other?
May the love of Christ and a humble spirit lead you to serve even the lowliest among us.
~Scott Johnson, Youth Pastor
The Rescue of the King
Imagine for a moment if the President or another famous person came to your city. Huge crowds of people would flock out to see him or her. Local and national news reporters would pick up on the story and be there to cover it. The person would be treated well, and would receive the praise of many as they toured the area. On Palm Sunday, we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem where he reveals what he has previously kept secret. Jesus is the long-anticipated King and Savior, but he enters the city in an unexpected manner. Many of the people who wanted a rescuer, a deliver that would offer them freedom from Roman oppression, would find themselves disappointed for this King brings rescue in a lowly and humble way.
The gospels present the picture of Jesus heading to Jerusalem to fulfill the purpose for which he came. Along the way, Jesus has plenty of opportunities to tell people that he is their Messiah, their Savior. What’s interesting and often puzzling is that Jesus seems to keep his identity a secret. For example, Jesus heals a leper in Matthew 8:3. We would think that this would be the perfect opportunity for Jesus to show everyone this miracle as proof that their Savior is here. That’s not what Jesus does though. Instead, he tells the leper not to tell anyone. Many other passages have the same theme-Jesus tells others not to reveal his identity (see Matt. 9:30; 12:16; 16:20; 17:9; as well as the gospel of Mark). Why does Jesus conceal his identity?
Jesus conceals his identity to many because he doesn’t want people to misunderstand who he is. He isn’t the conquering king that will come riding into Jerusalem on a war horse to win the county back for Israel. Instead, he’s the king who will rescue his people in a way that’s better than any fairy tale story that we could read. However, the only way we can rightly understand this story is in light of the cross.
Jesus enters Jerusalem on Sunday, the day we celebrate as Palm Sunday. His preparation for the cross is nearing its end. The forces of darkness and light are set to collide. We read about Jesus’ entry in Matt. 21:1-11, as well as in the other gospels. For our time today though, we’ll stay with the account in Matthew. Jesus arrives to finally reveal who he is, and to prepare his people for a king that rescues them, not temporarily, but eternally.
As his disciples bring forth the donkey and the colt that Jesus will ride (the colt, with the donkey alongside), he fulfills the prophesy of Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
righteous and having salvation is he,
humble and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Instead of riding a war horse, Jesus rides in humbly, bringing peace and rescue through his suffering. Jesus doesn’t rescue his people at this point by being a conquering warrior arrayed in battle armor, but through his suffering on the cross. He does this to set the example for his followers, who to must walk in humility and put their own interests last. The crowds line the road with palm branches, much like rolling out the red carpet. Contrary to what you may have heard however, there are 2 different crowds. The crowd that sang his praises on Sunday is not the same crowd that called for his death.
As Christians, we should celebrate Palm Sunday as a reminder of Christ’s humility and his rescue. We see that often the disciples and the crowds often didn’t have the right categories for Jesus-their expectations were wrong, and as a result, they had difficulty thinking of him rightly. Many of the people rejected Jesus because they couldn’t take the idea of a suffering, humble king. When Jesus returns again, he won’t be the king who returns on a donkey. Instead, he will come back on a war horse, and it will be clear to the world that he’s the rightful king. This Psalm Sunday, my prayer is that you look afresh to the humble king who rescued us from our sins through his suffering, and follow in his path.
Events of the Passion Week:
Sunday: Triumph entry (Matt. 21:1-11), surveying the temple (Mark 11:11)
Monday: Cleansing the temple (Matt. 21:12-13), cursing the fig tree, challenge in the temple, return to Bethany
Tuesday: Questions about the fig tree, debate with leaders in the temple, Olivet Discourse
Wednesday: Judas arranges for betrayal
Thursday: Preparation for Passover; Passover meal and Last Supper; Farewell discourse; Gethsemane
Friday: Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus; Jewish trials, Roman trial, crucifixion, burial, tomb sealed
~ Josh Gerber, Associate Pastor