I am writing this on the Wednesday of what is known as Holy Week. So we are 48 hours away from Good Friday and 4 days away from Easter Sunday.
As a Christian living in America, it’s very easy to blow right past Good Friday and focus on Easter Sunday. After all, Easter is the day of the big party over grandma’s house. It’s the day you give your kids a basket of goodies. It’s the day everybody dresses up. After all, there is no such thing as “Good Friday” bonnet, is there? 🙂
So I felt a nudge from the Holy Spirit to write this blog to encourage you to take Holy Week one day at a time. Tomorrow is known as “Maundy Thursday” (and just how it got that name is a topic for another blog!) which is when Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. Then you have Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and finally Easter Sunday.
So here are some things to think about to help you slow down and focus on Good Friday…
For the joy set before Jesus, He endured the cross… (Hebrews 12:2). The joy set before Him was you and me. The joy set before Him was our freedom from sin. The joy set before Him was making it possible for us to become children of God.
And the Cross was the ONLY WAY to make those things happen.
To explain why the Cross was the only way, let me take you back to a fascinating verse of events that took place the day before Jesus was going to die. The Last Supper has just taken place and Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane:
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).
This is an absolutely fascinating verse! After all, Jesus was predestined to go to the Cross. Theologians like to say Jesus was born to die.
So the Cross was the culmination of God’s plan of salvation.
But less than 24 hours before the first nail was driven into Jesus’ hand, the Son asks the Father, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.”
In other words, Jesus is saying: Is there any other way we can do this? Is there any other way we can accomplish what we need to accomplish? I know this has always been the plan. But can we pull an audible at the last minute? Is there any other way to defeat the devil, sin, and death?
Now don’t miss this…God is a good good Father. And a good Father would not have had His Son go to the Cross IF there was any other way to accomplish the same goal.
Therefore, Jesus HAD to go to the Cross. There was NO other option.
God the Father did not want Jesus to be crucified because He was a mean dad. And Jesus didn’t choose to be crucified because He enjoyed pain.
For the past month, we have been in a series at our church called Reconsidering the Meaning of the Cross. As Christians living in America we need to re-think what we assume about the Cross. We need to re-think things to fully grasp what the Cross accomplished and oftentimes our church background gets in the way of that. Familiarity with the Cross has led to unfamiliarity!
We need to realize that the Cross was the only way to defeat the devil and defeat sin and defeat death. And this makes sense when we begin to wake up to the fact. That we are in war zone.
We need to view the Cross as an an instrument of war and Jesus’ death as an act of war in what is known as spiritual warfare… to defeat Satan and his works, including sin and death.
So because of that… because of the Cross… may you and I not “jump ahead” to Easter Sunday. May we take Holy Week one day at a time. And here are three practical ways to do that:
- Between now and Easter Sunday follow a special Bible reading plan. Click HERE. It’s a blog I wrote a few years ago that contains a harmonization of all 4 gospels that contains a list of passages to read, focused on the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life from the Last Supper to the Tomb.
- Treat Good Friday as the unique day that it is. Don’t spend those 24 hours like you do any other day of the year. Because it’s not any other day. It’s Good Friday. So here are some suggestions: Turn off the radio when you drive to work and pray instead. Fast from food. Keep the TV off. Spend extra time in the Bible that day. Serve at a soup kitchen.
- Go to church on Good Friday. Hopefully this blog will re-wire your thinking so that going to church on Good Friday isn’t an obligation that you “ought” to do but something you are compelled to do. And if you live in southeastern Michigan we’d love to have you come to our service! Info is below.
***We’d love to see everyone twice this weekend at The Eastside Vineyard Church. We are having a service on Good Friday at 7:00pm and Easter Sunday at 10:30am. My sermons are titled “Good Good Friday” and “Life AFTER Death… and Life BEFORE Death.” More details about both services can be found at tevchurch.org***