Thursday, March 24, 2016

A good day or a bad day?

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
For our sins He suffered and bled and died
He’s our Rock our hope of eternal salvation

Hail Him, Hail Him, Jesus the crucified’

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