In his book, Six Hours One Friday, Max Lucado writes this prose:
It rests on the time line of history like a compelling diamond.
It’s tragedy summons all sufferers.
It’s absurdity attracts all critics.
It’s hope lures all searchers.
My what a piece of wood!
History has idolized it and despised it, gold plated it and burned it, worn it and trashed it.
History has done everything to it but ignore it.
That’s the one option that the cross does not offer.
No one can ignore it!
You can’t ignore a piece of lumber that suspends the greatest claim in history.
A crucified carpenter claiming that he is God on earth!
It’s bottom line is sobering.
If the account is true, it is history’s hinge. Period.
If not, it’s history’s hoax.
On that first Easter morning, the Kingdom of death was repossessed and hope took up the payments.
But even Easter has to start with the cross.
For those who are followers of Jesus, we need to wrap our arms around Good Friday. That’s a lot like saying we need to greet torture with a kiss. After Jesus asked His closest followers who they really thought He was, Matthew recorded this encounter: From that time on, Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:21-25)
Good Friday is the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus, but there’s more to it than reflecting. Here’s four truths we shouldn’t miss.
- FRIDAY IS THE ROAD TO SUNDAY –We wall want to celebrate Easter. We love the story of the resurrection. But Jesus calls us to the Cross first. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming. Friday is the road to Sunday. There’s no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There’s no resurrection without the cross. Dying to self is the way to find Life in God’s upside-down Kingdom. Friday is the road to Sunday. Let’s not forget that.
- EVERYONE HAS A PROBLEM WITH THE CROSS –This one Friday of the year is NOT a TGIF kind of day. The very idea of Good Friday causes us concern. It’s not even a good Friday, it’s a bad one.
The problem is that both Christ’s power and wisdom led him to the Cross—a brutal denial of everything He had done before. (Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31). Those who had seen his power wondered why he seemed powerless at his greatest point of need. Those who saw his intelligence wondered how someone so smart could miscalculate so badly. Both sides missed what Jesus and his Father were saying. Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24)
Friday is the road to Sunday. Everyone has a problem with the Cross.
- FRIDAY MEANS THE BEGINNING OF CHANGE –Good Friday provides the opportunity to proclaim, “Once you’ve been to the cross, everything changes.” Stumbling blocks and foolishness turn into power and wisdom. The cross changes everything. If something’s stirring inside of you today, then perhaps, the event that will change everything for you is the Cross. If nothing is changing, maybe you haven’t been to the Cross. Easter is certainly about the empty tomb. But first, it’s about the cross. Friday is the road to Sunday. It was the road for Jesus. It is the road for us.
- FRIDAY DEMONSTRATES FAITH –We often say, “God promises to never forsake you.” But if we are brutally honest and transparent, it doesn’t always feel that way. Think about the two phrases Jesus uttered on the cross….“My God, why have you forsaken me?” and “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” How can those two go together? They don’t jive. They don’t mesh or make sense. But, Friday demonstrates faith. Jesus showed us how to trust the Father beyond the circumstances.
Jesus predicted his death and resurrection. It’s one thing to predict the future. It’s quite another to go to the cross willingly. At least three times, Jesus shared His destiny with the disciples. They didn’t get it. In fact, Jesus embraced this destiny by faith. He knew the Father’s promise of resurrection, but death was still on the road ahead of him. And death was still death, horrific, painful and difficult. Even for Jesus. Friday demonstrated faith. It was his trust in the Father’s promise that caused him to wager everything he had—his very life. As a man, God in human flesh, Jesus modeled how to trust the Father. Jesus revealed faith over circumstances. Friday demonstrated trust in the big picture God wanted to paint—the picture of God’s Salvation Plan, His redemption through the cross.
On this Good Friday and every Friday, God wants you to have faith in Him. Yes, regardless of the circumstances or situations you might be facing today. Remember, Friday is the road to Sunday. Earth’s saddest day and gladdest day…were just three days apart.
Thanks to Ray Hollenbach for many of these great thoughts on Good Friday.