Saturday, April 15, 2017

A WORD FROM PASTOR MIKE - Good Friday...What Does This Mean?

"But he was wounded for our transgressions.  He was crushed for our iniquities.  Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with his stripes we are healed.  And we, like sheep, have gone astray.  We have turned everyone to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all."  Isaiah 53:5-6

What is so "good" about Good Friday?  Jesus is unjustly tried and convicted, tortured, put to death on a cross.  It's a bleak story, a dark story.  It's definitely not a "good" Friday for Jesus.

Actually, it hasn't always been called Good Friday.  In some places Good Friday is called Black Friday.  In fact, that is the color in the church year calendar for Good Friday.  But now, in our culture, Black Friday has become the big shopping day after Thanksgiving.

Sorrowful Friday was another name for this day.  This emphasized our "great sorrow" over Jesus' death for us.

God's Friday  was another term used.  God is doing His work repairing the damage of sin.  Jesus became the one sacrifice for all time.  Some scholars believe that God's Friday was then transformed into Good Friday

What does Christ's death mean for us?  The suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God's plan to save people from their sins, which is good, at least for us... not so good for Jesus.

Human beings are God's good creation but we are also sinful.  We need to own both parts of this.  We are saints because of God's righteousness in us and we are sinners at the same time.

Sometimes we like to put a good spin on this. One boy came home from school before Christmas and told his Mom that he had good news and bad news.  The bad news was the he goofed around a lot and didn't work very hard, resulting in poor grades on his report card.  The good news was that he still got to be one of the 3 wise men in the Christmas Program!.

Even though we like to put a good spin on our sinful human nature, the Apostle Paul doesn't sugar coat our situation.  In the book of Romans he writes, "None is righteous, no not one.  No one understands.  No one seeks for God.  No one does good, not even one.  All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The bad news is that God despises sin because sin causes pain.  We are sinful; we cause pain through our words and deeds.  The wrath of God comes against sin and wants to destroy it.

The good news is God is love.  God loves His creation.  God loves us in spite of our sin so He sent Jesus to take care of the sin problem, once and for all time.

I don't know if you've ever thought about the cross this way before, but it's the place where God's justice and God's love meets.

What kind of God would He be if he didn't care about sin and injustice?  What kind of a God would he be if he didn't love us?  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

God took care of the sin problem for us.  Martin Luther calls it "The Happy Exchange".  Christ takes the sins of the world on himself - our sins.  And then, he gives us His robe of righteousness to cover up our sinfulness.  So that when God looks at us, he doesn't see our sins. He sees us clothed in Christ's righteousness.  He sees us as part of His good creation, no longer slaves to sin but part of His Family.

Why did Jesus die for us?  Jesus endured the cross, knowing that it led to our redemption through his innocent suffering and death.  He bought us back from sin and set us free from both sin and death.

Now the future is opened for us.  Now we have new life, new beginnings every day because of Him.

So, Good Friday is good for us.  We are free.  Our sin debt is cancelled by the love of Jesus.

In John 15 Jesus speaks to His followers, "This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends."

Jesus laid down his life for his followers, for the whole world, for you and me... that we might be free from sin.  What wonderous love is this?!  And so... What does Good Friday mean?  It was a bad day for Jesus but good for us.

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