Friday, April 06, 2007

a friday we call 'good'

Today is the day we call “Good Friday.” It is a day Christians around the world remember the death of Jesus – the Passion. The story of it is written in all four Gospels (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23 and John 19). But its foreshadowing looms across the Old Testament. Its repercussions impact all of time, into eternity.

Early in Genesis, right after Adam and Eve have given in to Satan’s temptation, God promises Satan: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15).

We see intimations of this day again when God establishes His covenant with Abraham, telling him that through his family all nations of the earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Jesus' place in Abraham's family is outlined in Matthew 1.

It is graphically pictured in Exodus 12, when God institutes the Passover. In order to avoid a visit from the Death Angel, the Israelites are to kill a lamb and smear its blood over the doorposts of their house. God promises: “And when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13).

My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” writes David in Psalm 22 - words Jesus echoed when He was on the cross.

Isaiah 53 is full of prophecies which came true quite literally on the day Jesus died, about 700 years later:

But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement of our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray
We have turned every one to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent
So He opened not His mouth.

How do you celebrate Good Friday? We usually go to church. In our town, it is often the day of joint services, when churches of many denominations come to worship together. Jesus would approve. The unity of His followers was close to His heart (John 17:20,21).

A part of the service is Communion. Jesus actually directed the first communion service the night He celebrated his last Passover with His disciples. He called this remembrance of His death by eating bread and drinking wine together, a new covenant (Matthew 26:17-30) because He knew that in a few hours, He would be fulfilling the requirements of the old.

It was at such a Good Friday service nine years ago that I first read the poem “How Shallow Former Shadows Seem” by Carl Daw. It expresses most eloquently why we can label such a sad event ‘good.’

May your Friday also be good.


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