Mar 252016
 

lone_cross_by_christiansThis year, it’s personal.

For most of my Christian life Good Friday and Easter were “holy days” where I was expected to teach about the doctrinal meanings of the crucifixion and the resurrection.

These are the foundational truths of our faith and it was necessary to be able to speak to them clearly for the sake of pedagogy.

 

This year, I get to test myself on what I taught.

This year, it’s not just doctrine.

My heart is failing and the future is uncertain.

But it’s not.

Traditionally, at the end of a Good Friday service, the congregation leaves suddenly, silently, and in darkness, to solemnize the death of Christ.

We ought to leave singing and head straight for a party that lasts all weekend.

We know the end of the story.

We know that the enemy was conquered and our sins atoned for at the cross.

We know that after the cross, Christ rose again and because He did, we will too.

Frederick Buechner wrote;

“The worst isn’t the last thing about the world. It’s the next to the last thing. The last thing is the best. It’s the power from on high that comes down into the world, that wells up from the rock-bottom worst of the world like a hidden spring. Can you believe it? The last, best thing is the laughing deep in the hearts of the saints, sometimes our hearts even. Yes. You are terribly loved and forgiven. Yes. You are healed. All is well.”

For me, for you, for all that believe in His name… the future is certain.

Can you believe it?

All has been made well on Good Friday.

I believe, help my unbelief…

Make your own application…

 

  31 Responses to “TGIF”

  1. Thank you for sharing, Michael. Yes our future is certain and it is one of joy and peace and eternal comfort. He will wipe away our tears. ( Revelations 21:4 ) That verse has comforted me through some tough times. No matter the uncertainty of today, it is that future with Him that helps us enjoy the good times and endure the hard times.

    Rejoice, my brother, for He has risen!

  2. Amen. The Lord is risen. God bless you, dear friend.

  3. Most excellent!
    Thank you Michael, let the celebration continue!

  4. Thank you for sharing your life and hope with us Michael.

  5. “My heart is failing and the future is uncertain.” no, the future is certain, but for now it is “day by day” and, like everyone else here, still praying for many, many more days to be blessed by things you think, Michael …. and a miracle – who knows? it could happen

    i love the custom of greeting on Resurrection Sunday morning, “He is risen” answered by “He is risen indeed”
    does anyone ever sing the old hymn, “Jesus lives and so shall I. Death thy sting is gone forever…?”

  6. Yes, absolutely, Michael…let’s celebrate Christ’s resurrection!

  7. For anyone at home this evening, looking for a Good Friday Sermon while thinking about this high holy day.

    https://thefirstpremise.wordpress.com/2016/03/26/sermon-on-isaiah-531-6-jesus-isnt-the-savior-you-want/

  8. Theology is great, it’s fine, it’s dandy, it keeps the pros busy and their paychecks coming in. But when all is said and done and at day’s end, I trust in His very person and nothing more. I have no iron-clad Euclidean style proof for the claims of and about Messiah, and I have no spiffy apologetic to try and razzle-dazzle with. In fact, I don’t know, faith for me is not certainty, it is hope, I simply choose to believe on Jesus… I trust in His very person and nothing more…

  9. Amen and Amen!!! 🙂

    I went to CCCM’s Good Fri service this year (haven’t been prob in 10 years) and I must say it was REALLY good! Brian had a great message (with an interesting point that I don’t think I’ve ever really heard) and then the worship at the end was really good and uplifting and celebratory – people were shouting in joy it was that good. Left feeling like it was Easter, not like all the other Good Fri services I’ve been to where you leave somber. Then came home and saw this article. 🙂 While Good Fri is a great time to specifically ponder and reflect on Jesus’ death for us, we also know the end and shouldn’t pretend like we don’t until Sunday – we can party the whole way because of what He’s done! 🙂

  10. Not to be a contrarian…. oh, why not.

    Good Friday is not a day for celebration if you are following a church calendar, or even if you aren’t. It’s the day to remember and commemorate the day the Lord died for our sins. It’s a day to realize that He was on the cross because of our sinfulness, even for the sins we haven’t gotten around to committing yet. It we were in the crowd at the foot of the Cross on that Friday 2000 years ago, we would not be celebrating. Since we ourselves are just as responsible for putting Christ on the Cross as those present in Jerusalem that day, we join them in their sorrow. True, they didn’t know the whole story and we (more or less) know it, but it is fitting and right to commemorate Good Friday in a sober way as we meditate on our sins and what He did on our behalf.

    Sunday is the day for celebration.

  11. I agree with Xenia – we left church in darkness and silence.
    People can commemorate Good Friday anyway they want, but to not stop long enough to ponder the death of Christ to me is a lacking theology.
    Good Friday is a more important time theologically than Easter and folks want to run right by it.

    Also, very few, if any evangelical churches ever acknowledge Holy Saturday

  12. Holy Saturday is actually the summit of Holy Week. This is when Christ enters Hades and sets the OT captives free. Easter Sunday is sort of the proof of the pudding. We have a very long service Saturday, and pretty huge chunk of the OT is read aloud. They are prophetic passages and the hymns are mournful. The vestments and altar cloths are black. Then, halfway through the service things start to brighten. We ladies of the Sisterhood quickly change the altar cloths to white and the clergy and altar servers change to white. One of the most joyful hymns of the entire year is sung. In some parishes, the clergy comes out and tosses rose petals and bay leaves on everyone. The tension of Lent is starting to break, light is starting to dawn. And why are we suddenly so happy? It’s because we are commemorating Christ breaking down the gates of Hades, trampling down death by death and rescuing the captives. This is really the high point of the year, of all history, actually, but sticking to the script, we humans don’t recognize what is going on behind the scenes until Sunday morning when we can see with our own eyes that “Christ is risen from the dead’!

    The thing about following a church calendar is kind of a “You Are There” experience. While it’s true that all the events of the Passion (and the rest of the Scriptures) happened at a specific time and place -they are historical- these events are timeless and we can, in a sense, participate in them.

    Pascha (Easter) is May 1 this year in Ortholandia. We are still at the veggie burger stage over here.

  13. A correction. The Sisterhood does not change the altar cloths as women are not permitted in the altar area. We change the cloths on the icon stands.

  14. “While it’s true that all the events of the Passion (and the rest of the Scriptures) happened at a specific time and place -they are historical- these events are timeless and we can, in a sense, participate in them.”

    Actually, Christians must and do participate in the trans-historical event of the cross. Baptism applies the cross to the sinner and raises up a new man in Christ.

  15. So many people are confused by church – what it is, what it does and what we are to do. It all centers on poor teaching.

    I was reading this article about why this lady left he lifelong church. One comment caught my eye’;
    “”I know I made the right decision to leave a church that seemed more interested in scaring people than improving their lives​.”

    Church is no more about making people’s lives better than it is about scaring people. – Where would anyone get the idea that church is about improving people’s lives? So if her church was about improving lives vs scaring people, she would have been no closer to salvation.

    http://www.marieclaire.com/culture/a19500/stopped-going-to-conservative-church-family/

  16. i doubt if we are capable of a full appreciation of what transpired on that cross – perhaps it’s better that the horror that rocked heaven and earth that day is beyond our understanding now – Mark 15:33-38

  17. I agree with Xenia’s #10
    Friday is the day to mourn, Sunday is the day to celebrate

  18. MLD, I read the article in your #15. It is a sad story to be sure. Perhaps she will encounter a radical Lutheran to revive her spirit.

  19. You speak the truth. Every good Friday service seems to dwell upon the darkness of all the pain, cruelty and suffering Christ endured while leaving out the victory and accomplishment.

    The joy that is set before us in everlasting blissfulness is indeed a valid reason for rejoicing on the day that victory was obtained for so many souls.

  20. There is no victory without a resurrection.

  21. Here is a good 8 min teaching on Good Friday – presented in a unique way.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ihwrq2oOfgQ&feature=youtu.be

    A 2nd point – I think victory was accomplished on the cross and the resurrection is a different act. Jesus proclaimed it was finished on the cross.

  22. MLD, great Good Friday teaching video.

    “A 2nd point – I think victory was accomplished on the cross and the resurrection is a different act. Jesus proclaimed it was finished on the cross.”

    Nope. Bearing our sin was finished.

    “It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” (Rom 4:24)

  23. We may be parsing a bit, because I could make the case that the entirety of Jesus’ perfect like, his death, burial and resurrection is what was the saving work – but … when Jesus descended into hell, if he was not proclaiming victory, was he proclaiming “hang on because we are getting close.”?

  24. I think Jesus’ whole mission coming to this earth was to die. He said as much.This He accomplished on the cross which we celebrate on Good Friday. The resurrection is the proof of God’s acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice. .

  25. Something strange is happening – there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and he has raised up all who have slept ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh and hell trembles with fear.

    He has gone to search for our first parent, as for a lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him the victory.

    At the sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone: “My Lord be with you all.” Christ answered him: “And with your spirit.” He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

    “I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in bondage to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.

    “Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Rise up, work of my hands, you who were created in my image. Rise, let us leave this place, for you are in me and I am in you; together we form only one person and we cannot be separated.

    “For your sake I, your God, became your son; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of man, I became like a man without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed to in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

    ‘See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

    “I slept on the cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

    ‘Rise, let us leave this place. The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

    “The throne formed by cherubim awaits you, its bearers swift and eager. The bridal chamber is adorned, the banquet is ready, the eternal dwelling places are prepared, the treasure houses of all good things lie open. The kingdom of heaven has been prepared for you from all eternity”.

    Bishop Melito of Sardis

  26. Without the resurrection, there is no new Aeon. There is no new creation apart from the Law. There is no age of grace.

    Let me be clear, the cross is where Christ was glorified. “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

    But when the old Aeon comes to an end, it takes a resurrection to usher in the new Aeon.

  27. I agree and stated a couple of posts up that the resurrection was a separate act and may have even ushered in the things you list.

    But victory itself was declared by Jesus from the cross in “it is finished” and victory proclaimed in the bowels of Hades.

  28. FWIW, i must agree with MLD on his second point – bearing that sin was awful – it is finished was a declaration of mission accomplished – a victory

  29. Happy Easter Everyone!

    MLD and EM,

    “As God punished our sins in Christ, upon whom He laid them and to whom He imputed them, as our Bondsman, so He also, by the very act of raising Him from the dead, absolved Him from our sins imputed to Him, and so He absolved also us in Him.”
    – Francis Pieper

    The “It is finished” statement is properly understood as the end of Christ’s suffering and humiliation. It ended with His death.

    The so-called descent into hell, actually is regarded as part of Christ’s exaltation. He was vivified (1 Pet 3:18) before he preached in hell.

  30. I have one foot out the door to church but I wanted to respond.
    I don’t know about the punishing language and it makes it sound as if the properly executed sacrifice was not enough until it received approval some days later.

    This seems to render the sacrifice system wanting – do we read in scripture that those who presented their sacrifice properly walked away still not having their sin covered immediately?

    Even by your own account – Jesus was exalted and his work recognized before the resurrection..

  31. another aspect of this is that Christ could have said, “these guys aren’t worth it and i don’t care what i was tasked to accomplish here on this sorry planet… i’m not going to hang here, abandoned by God the Father… I’m out of here” and left the cross and returned to heaven without the defeat of Satan (in my view, Satan’s defeat was a man, Christ’s, perfect obedience to Father to the bitter end)
    the cup was drained to the dregs – after which He declared “it is finished” – that WAS the victory declaration – what followed, until He ascended to the Father’s right hand to serve as our High Priest, was all mop up 🙂

    I pray for a blessed Resurrection reality to all this lovely day

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