Good Friday Devotional
I am the way, the truth and the life.
No man comes to the Father except through me.--Jesus
Easter is THE new beginning! It is HOPE beyond hope and provides purpose for all who draw near. Many a person has found themselves in situations in life where there seemed to be no answer. Things were headed the wrong direction quickly and the inevitable path pointed toward failure and defeat. We’ve all walked that trudging empty path, head hanging, heart pounding, sweat pouring realizing how desperately we needed to be rescued! Easter IS that rescue. The writer put it this way—Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Jesus conquered the unconquerable and he did it with flair. In John 2:19 He made this amazing claim: . . . “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” Of course some of those standing around him thought he was talking about THE Temple in Jerusalem. What his disciples recognized after he rose again was that he was talking about himself. 3 days of despair. 3 days of grief and finality and horrifying questions and then he rose again on the 3rd day and HOPE was redefined!
I want you to take some time to remember all that Jesus did. This year IS different but it doesn’t diminish all that Jesus is and all that he did for you and I. This Sunday we’ll celebrate his bold claim and the reality that Jesus rose again! Remember, whether we meet corporately or online, that NEVER diminishes the fact that Jesus ROSE from the dead. That’s already done. We celebrate because he has already accomplished EVERYTHING. But that Friday, 2,000 years ago was a day of tragedy, regret, remorse and sorrow for those who followed and loved Jesus. I want you to also realize, behind the curtain of humanity, Good Friday was more than apparent defeat. Jesus was at the beginning of the end, 72 hours from completing the goal. Hebrews 12:2 gives a view of Jesus death that his followers could never have imagined on the Friday of his death: Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Who is this King of glory? Jesus our Savior! Take your time, focus on Christ and return to your first love as you reflect on Jesus this special day.
Reflecting on Christ
We know the specifics about Jesus. He called himself the Son of Man and in many ways resembled everyone around him. He laughed and cried and was hungry and thirsty and grew tired and grieved and demonstrated passion, disappointment, took care of his mother and showed compassion to those hurting. He wasn’t a mechanical being but a real person made of flesh and bone living among us who taught those around him about the kingdom of God. But Jesus was different than other rabbis. He healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, encouraged the down trodden, cast out demons, and loved the unlovely. When John the Baptist was in prison, he sent word to his followers –is this the One? Jesus response is found in Matt 11:2-6
Alphonsus de Liguori:
Jesus clearly expressed his love for children when he decided to become one:
When the Son of God became man for our sake, He could have come to earth as an adult man from the first moment of his human existence. But since the sight of little children draws us with an especial attraction to love them, Jesus chose to make his first appearance on earth as a little infant . . . “God wished to be born as a little baby,” wrote Saint Peter Chrysologus, “in order that He might teach us to love and not to fear him.” The prophet Isaiah had long before foretold that the Son of God was to be born as an infant and thus give himself to us on account of the love he bore us: “A child is born to us a son is given to us.”
Not the slightest evidence of selfishness or self-interest can be found in the story of Jesus’ life. He was always helping others but not once did he do anything to help himself. He had the power to turn stone into bread but went hungry forty days without doing it . . . His first miracle was performed not before a multitude to spread his own fame, but in a far away hamlet to save a peasant’s wife from humiliation. He . . . . wept over Jerusalem, but he never had any mercy on himself.
Matthew 28:20 surely I am with you always to the very end of the age--Jesus
How are you? I just had to send you this letter and to tell you how much I love and care about you. I saw you yesterday as you were walking with friends. I waited all day hoping you would talk to me also. As evening drew near, I gave you a sunset to close your day, a cool breeze to rest you, and I waited. You never came. Oh yes, it hurt me, but I still love you, because I am your friend.
I saw you fall asleep last night and I longed to touch your brow so I spilled moonlight upon your pillow and face. Again I waited, wanting to rush down so we could talk. I have so many gifts for you.
You awakened late and rushed off for the day—my tears were in the rain. Today you looked so sad, so alone. It makes my heart ache because I understand. My friends let me down and hurt me many times, too, but I love you. I try to tell you in the quiet, green grass. I whisper it in the leaves and the tress and give it in the colors of the flowers. I shout it to you in the mountain streams and give the birds love songs to sing. I clothe you with warm sunshine and perfume the air. My love for you is deeper than the oceans and bigger than the biggest want or need you have.
We will spend eternity together in heaven. I know how hard it is on this earth, I really know . . . My Father wants to help you too . . . He’s that way, you know. Just call on me, ask me, talk to me . . . But if you don’t call, you’ll see . . . I have chosen you and because of this, I will wait . . . because I love you.
Matthew 9:9-13 Jesus calls Matthew. Matthew has a party. Matthew invites sinners and publicans. Sinner and publicans don’t show up for just anyone. Jesus is the life of the party. He brings joy into the lives of those others push away.
John 6:35, 41, 48, 51; 8:12; 9:5; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1, 5
“Are you going to do a miracle today?”
Wherever Jesus went, children seemed to follow. They wanted to see him heal a cripple or zap a fig tree, to say hello to him, to tell him something special.
“Don’t shoo them away!,” said Jesus to his friends.
“But you don’t have time for this foolishness,” said Judas.
“I’ve got time.”
“You don’t have enough time to sleep. You don’t have enough time to pray. You don’t have enough time to spend with your friends,” said Judas. “So how come you’ve enough time to spen with these noise, runny-nosed children?”
“Because they’re so much fun,” said Jesus.
The boys and girls crowded around the great man. Jesus asked who they were, did they pray for their mothers and fathers, was Solomon a judge or a prophet or a king, weren’t Ruth and Miriam and Deborah the real heroes of the Scriptures, and no, he wasn’t going to do any tricks today.
“Heaven is a lot like a playground,” Jesus said to Judas later, “and unless you remember what it was like to be a child, you won’t get in.”
“Does that mean I have to hop, skip and jump forever?” asked Judas.
“No,” said Jesus. “It means you have to be curious and eager and good and honest.”—Wm Griffin
Home town heroes make us swell up with pride and pat ourselves on the back because we live in the ‘same’ town as ____________________. For Jesus, his home town brought about a different reaction. They didn’t really get too excited over this Nazarene rabbi. Consequently, it had a differing effect. Instead of pride—unbelief! Imagine that! Matthew 13:53-58
Luke 9:21-26 Jesus speaks of his own personal death and then turns the responsibility on those listening. If you want to be a true follower of Christ, death is in your future. The image of the cross was repulsive to the Jewish listeners and yet, Jesus used it powerfully. Followers of Christ must die to themselves to live in Christ. It’s a powerful picture of servanthood and abiding love!
In Jesus’ day, authority for the typical rabbi meant quoting from the popular rabbis of the day. Their authority was based on the authority of the leading rabbi. In our day it would be like giving a thought and backing the thought up with the statement: “That’s what Matt Chandler thinks; J.D. Grear believes this; Andy Stanley says” . . . that was the typical form in Jesus’ day. But Jesus wasn’t an everyday rabbi. He didn’t quote authority, he spoke ‘from’ authority and those who listened to him knew his message and delivery was different.
Matthew 7:28, 29; Mark 1:27; Mathew 9:6; John 10:17, 18
I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would NOT be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity
Jesus was INDEED more than a man, a teacher, a good man. He was the Son of God.
The Suffering Servant
Sin. Such a little word with extreme consequences. In our day, it’s easy to ‘attempt’ to diminish that three letter word but no matter how hard we rationalize our sin or play down what sin is, according to God’s Word, sin is powerful beyond belief. Essentially, sin is disobeying God and God’s Word. It takes on a life of its own when we say ‘NO’ to God. Humanity’s first sin was a simple act of disobedience. God said, “You can eat of every tree in the Garden. It’s ALL yours with one exception (we don’t like exceptions do we?). God gave Adam and Eve—EVERYTHING with one exception. We don’t know how long they enjoyed everything. But somewhere in the perfect place, with the perfect environment, hanging out with the perfect person, enjoying a perfect world with the Creator walking with them in the cool of the evening—they decided to deviate from God’s plan (that’s a GREAT definition of . . . SIN). They chose what they wanted over a God who gave them everything and he told them what the consequences would be if they chose to disobey. Sin produces death and they sinned. God exited them out of paradise and from that day forward we all have carried the penalty of disobedience in our life. Death is our sentence because we all have deviated from God’s Word and God’s plan.
What is devastating is that sin’s consequences is so extreme. It is death! Not just of the physical variety but forever death. Mankind is in a constant mode of attempting to earn their way back from a penalty they can’t pay. Romans 3 gives the painful prognosis—the wages of sin is death! Now that’s disturbing because we do not have the ability on our own to change the condition that sin places us in. Our future is death—forever. Death and decay is the constant mode of the world we live in. From the day we are born, we are headed for the grave. Nature, the cosmos, the world around us have all been tainted by sin and the wages of that sin is death! Some people try to ignore the inevitable while others spend a life time ‘attempting’ to do things that will make them feel better while their sealed condition, their death sentence continues to race them toward an inevitable future. It’s hopeless – on our own. But our Creator, the God of the universe put a plan in action immediately after sin entered into the world. A plan that would include years of teaching humanity how devastating the effects of sin are and yet providing means, procedures and actions that would allow humanity to have a relationship with the Creator again—like those special days in the Garden. He taught us that sin costs and that forgiveness of sin involves the spilling of blood of a spotless victim and faith in the God who created life. Think about the impact. Every time someone sinned an innocent, spotless victim had to spill its blood—to simply ‘cover’ sin. Hebrews 10:4 God began the foundational work for something greater. Bulls and goats provided a covering, a temporary solution for a greater problem. It would take THE perfect sacrifice, THE perfect solution and God put the solution in motion. John 3:16. Why did His son, His one and only son have to give up his life? Because God desires a relationship with you and me. He loves humanity but being a holy God he can’t be in the presence of sin. What bulls and goats couldn’t do . . . a perfect, willing sacrifice could. God called, Jesus responded and the payment for our sin was fully, completely and thoroughly paid for by Jesus. Hebrews 9:11-14
Did you cry, Jesus?
Did the world ever pile up on you while you wanted to quit?
Did you ever cry, Jesus?
Did you ever get so tired, Jesus, you wished you’d never come?
Were you ever lonely, Jesus?
When your friends misunderstood and walked out on you, did you ever cry, Jesus?
I think you must have, for I know you so well. So well!
I think you must have cried a little.
As you reflect on the sacrifice, pain, agony and willingness of Christ—focus on what he voluntarily did for you; then . . . allow the Holy Spirit to work in your own life. It is my sin and your sin that Jesus gave his life for. Use this time to be a season of thankfulness, remembrance and honesty. Confess your sin. Thank your Savior. Honor and adore Jesus for dying for you!
Isaiah 53:1-7 – The path of the cross for the Son of God wasn’t a road he had to travel for his own good. He choose to rescue sinful man. Isaiah captures the essence with powerful precision hundreds of years before Christ suffered and died. God had a plan. Jesus submitted to his Father’s will. By his stripes we are healed! Thank HIM!
Alas and did my Savior bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Some versions have substituted sinners for worm. It’s unfortunate. ‘Worm’ speaks louder of my need for grace and more of the wonder for a God who stoops quite a distance to save—Calvin Miller
Luke 22:39-43, 63-65;
Matthew 27:27-31, 45, 46
Luke 23:13-20, 33-35, 44-48
1 John 1:8, 9 is a picture of honesty and vulnerability. God honors a humble and contrite heart. Confess your sin, ask Jesus to forgive your sin. Remember all he did. Honor Jesus with a hearts of gratitude and praise—He gave himself for YOUR sin . . . aw but He didn’t remain in the grave! Love Him, Adore Him. We serve a RISEN LORD! Hallelujah Jesus is ALIVE! Isolated or not our condition doesn’t change his VICTORY. Jesus IS the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS. Worship HIM!