It’s here. Across the globe, today is recognized as Good Friday, a day commemorating the day on which Jesus gave His life as the payment for humanity’s sins. From a humanistic view, there’s nothing good about a man being unlawfully condemned to die. He was scourged – almost to the point of death – and then led to a hill outside of Jerusalem which had the odd shape of a skull. As He was being nailed to the cross, Jesus prayed for His tormentors: “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, and the criminals, one on the right hand and the other on the left. Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’” (Luke 23:33-34). It was not unusual for condemned men to curse, spit, and bargain for their lives. But Jesus was different. He was (and still is) God; hence He prayed for the souls of these men. That prayer has resonated throughout the ages. In fact, that prayer could be suitable for every one of us! We all do things without realizing the consequences of our actions.
For six horrific hours, Jesus hung suspended between Heaven and Earth. The cross was considered to be the most ignominious way for a man to die. In fact, Paul referred to an ancient biblical text that said: “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’)” (Galatians 3:13). Dying that we might live, Jesus faced something that had never happened in all of eternity past – and will never, ever happen again: He was forsaken by God the Father. Imagine the anguish of His heart and soul as He shouts: “‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?’ (Matthew 27:46). I have a book in which the author says: “God forsaking God...who can fathom that?” I surely cannot. His death was followed by a hasty preparation of His body for burial by Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (from John 3). They placed His body in the unused tomb of Joseph of Arimathea. Being a common name, have you ever wondered why the gospel writers are so specific in referring to Joseph as being from Arimathea? I think it’s in lieu of what happens on Sunday morning. When the events of Sunday unfolded, it was easy to locate the tomb in which the body of Jesus had been placed.
Nevertheless, Jesus died – His body buried – the tomb sealed on Pilate’s order. Saturday must have been an incredibly depressing day for the slow-believing disciples of Jesus.
Humanly speaking – things were terrible. Spiritually speaking – well, to say they were fantastic would be an understatement. You see, the death of Jesus was planned before the foundation of the world. Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” That means you, me, and everybody else! But His death and burial do not comprise the complete gospel. Let’s let Paul tell it: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).He “rose again.” This is the linchpin to redemption. Can anyone really defeat death by rising again? Only if your name is Jesus! His resurrection was evident by (as Luke would say) “infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3). That’s what this coming Sunday is all about. Christians serve a risen Savior. He has defeated Satan, death, and the grave – all for those who will simply receive His offer of redemption!
And speaking of Sunday – I’d like to invite you to celebrate Easter with us at Robinson Avenue Baptist Church and hear our Teaching Pastor, David Hatfield, as he concludes his series: Five Days to the Cross. Having retired from the pastorate, serving last as the Pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church for more than 27 years, David has agreed to serve as our Teaching Pastor. He and I will be sharing the pulpit ministry at our Church and we’d love to have you join us! We are convinced God has great things in store for Robinson Avenue Baptist Church and I would like to invite you to join us as we pursue the noble task of glorifying God!