People might well ask why a bad Friday is now called ‘Good Friday”
The narrative of Jesus of
Nazareth being judged by the Jewish leadership and the Roman governor does not
create any joyful feelings. The injustice, the violence, the mockery and then
the cruelty of the crucifixion, all point to a very bad day.
How is it then that Christians all over the
world find something good from what seemed so bad and tragic . If logic were our compass we would be lost
for an answer. If the Bible is our compass, we have answers abundant.
One way to understand the meaning
of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, is to remember links to it in the
Old Testament. The Israelites were commanded to bring animal sacrifices to
atone for their sins. After many years of practising this, the prophet Isaiah
announced that the Messiah would come as a servant, and that His soul would be made
an offering for sin (Isaiah 53). By means of His sufferings and resurrection, He would justify
many. The Lord Jesus himself referred to these Old Testament scriptures to
explain His sufferings. (Luke 24).
Another way to consider the
purpose of the cross, is to ponder the words of the Lord Jesus Himself, before
and after the event. He said He would ‘give His life a ransom for many’ (Mark
10.45). As a shepherd, He said He would “lay down His life for the sheep” (John 10). He emphasised that this would be
done according to the commandment of the Father. He gave His disciples detailed
predictions of His impending death – rejected, spit on, killed etc. When it
came to the night He was betrayed, He said to the apostles, “ this is my blood
shed for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26.28). Thus we can see that His
going to the cross was not accidental or unfortunate. After the resurrection,
He said “ It was necessary that Christ should suffer and on the third day rise
from the dead, that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in
His Name”. (Luke 24)
Peter was a witness of the
sufferings of Christ, and he put it this way –“For Christ also suffered once
for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God,
being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3.18)
Paul, who met the Lord Jesus
Christ after the resurrection and ascension, commented on the cross as – the
Son of God who “gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from this present evil
age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galations1).
We could continue on this subject
for a long time because so much of the Bible is occupied with the meaning and
effects of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even in heaven, the song of the
redeemed will refer back to the “Blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 5).
How we rejoice that it is God who
turned the evil of mankind (at the cross), into a good outcome.
For Jesus Christ it was pain, aloneness, reproach,
shame and death, but for those who believe in Him, it is the means of freedom,
forgiveness and eternal life (and so much more).
‘Praise Him, Praise Him, Jesus
our blessed redeemer
The king arrived at the city gate. How disappointed he
was to discover that almost no one recognised him. He had built the city and
with great detail and precision and had set up it’s walls, it’s towers along
with the beautiful gardens. The streets had been laid out in order and the
market place established for the convenience of all. But now all was in disarray.
Worst of all was the state of the people. They were preoccupied with selfish
gains, distracted in worship by other attractions, seeking to attain their own
independence by their own ingenuity.
The intriguing thing is how the king now comes to them.
Not presenting himself as a king, but as
a servant to all. He connects with the gardener as a gardener. He connects with
the shepherds as a shepherd for he is more interested in restoring the people
than he is in restoring the structures and the environment. Love does compel
him to expose the pride and disobedience of the people, but his compassion
brings healing and recovery. But how does he bring God’s favour upon this
rebellious people? How can true enduring peace be restored?
Jesus of Nazareth certainly did many mighty
miracles. John the apostle summarized them this way - “Jesus did many other
signs in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, but
these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of
God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name” (John 20.31).
The miracles were
spectacular and undeniable. He changed water into wine, stilled the storm,
multiplied five loaves of bread to feed 5000, healed the sick, walked on water,
raised the dead to life again.
questioned the power source (since the magicians of Egypt could do certain
miracles), but the Lord Jesus himself restated that the power to do these miracles
was by the Holy Spirit, in accord with the commandment of the Father.
The reason why He
did these signs was important.
They were done as
the works of the Father.
vindicated the authority of Jesus as the Son of God
The signs and
wonders confirmed the words of Jesus as the words of God.
The character of
the miracles was an expression of God’s caring love for a broken humanity.
Note that these
miracles were not something worked up – so often healing was instant, seldom done
in the synagogue, and not limited to certain psychological conditions. The final
sign, which worried the rulers of the Jews, was the raising of Lazarus from the
dead. This ultimate sign of His ultimate authority, was indicative of His final
authority on the day of judgement, when all the dead will be raised to face Him as the judge.
How important it is that we
believe in Him, to be delivered from the
condemnation of judgement (John 5.24) , and instead find the full meaning of ‘eternal life’
It is not the thrill of miracles that counts, but the thrill of knowing Him whose name is "Wonderful" (wonder worker)