Jesus observed Passover with the disciples on Wednesday, and announced that He was the fulfillment of the Passover. He was crucified on Thursday morning, then taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb on Thursday night before sundown, because it was during preparations for Passover which started at sunset on our Thursday, which is the official Jewish Friday. Jesus was placed in the tomb on Good Friday because the Jewish religious leaders (the Sanhedrin) wanted Him out of the way as the 7 days of Passover were fulfilled….
Isaiah 55:8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. v9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts”.
Don’t do your stuff, and then ask God to bless it, how about asking Him first, what He will bless, then you’ll know the blessing is assured….
Too often, my ways are not God’s ways, neither are my thoughts His thoughts…But I have come to the conclusion that God takes His job as God, very seriously and so should I…
You see, if I had my way, and I were one of the disciples in Jesusday, I would have been Peter…. Pulling out the sword and saying, “OK, you think you’re so bad, Bring it”…. I would have cut more off than the ear of that servant of the high priest who issued the order to arrest Jesus for trial…. I mean, this Jesus was a manlike no man I had ever heard of… As Peter, I would have watched His miracles, His incredible feats of walking on water (since Peter was in the water with Him), raising the dead, cleansing lepers, opening blind eyes, raising the dead…. I would have felt that the world couldn’t lose such a man as this in the midst of all the neediness and suffering everywhere I looked. I would have tried to get a militia together and rescue Jesus, I would have kept Him from the whipping post, the terrible ordeal of carrying the cross up Golgotha’s hill, the cross He would be so cruelly crucified on. I would have gotten Him down from that cross, before He uttered those words, to the thief, to John and his mother, to the soldiers, as well as the final words, to everyone, “It is finished”!
I would have robbed the world of Easter In my attempts to keep Jesus from all the suffering which He chose to go through….Iwould have brought temporary relief and created long term loss and chaos…
Yes, in order to save all of these from persecution and hardship, I would have altered the future of all Christianity….. Of course, if I were God, I would have probably put your nose on top of your head like a snorkel, and webbing in your hands and feet so you could swim better, and some eyes in back of your head to see behind you, and 4 arms to do several things at once….and that’s just to mention a few things…. Man, We would look pretty weird, if I had the chance to be God! I can’t fathom it, but the breaking and pouring out of passion week was a supreme display of God’s love… We have known love to drive people to do some very powerful and sacrificial things.
As A teenager, Arthur Hinkley, lifted a farm tractor with his bare hands. He wasn’t a weight lifter, he wasn’t that big, but his best friend, eighteen-year-old Lloyd, was pinned under the tractor. Arthur heard Lloyd screaming for help and Arthur somehow lifted the tractor enough for Lloyd to wriggle outfrom underneath. His love for his best friend somehow enabled him to do what would normally be impossible. There is the story of a priest who offered his life in place of a teenage boy in Nazi Germany. His offer was accepted and the priest took his place and died to save the boy’s life. And I add the story of a young soldier who had been condemned to death by Oliver Cromwell. He was to be shot at the ringing of the curfew bell. His fiancée climbed the bell tower and tied herself to the clapper of the giant bell so that it could not ring. When the bell did not ring, soldiers went to investigate and found the girl battered and bleeding from being bashed against the sides of the bell. Cromwell was so impressed by her love for the young man that he was given a pardon. Greater love has no man, than this, that he would lay down His life for a friend….
And believe me, my friend, If I had my way, I would be Captain Grabber! I would always want to grab you out, out of all yourstruggles and stop all your pain. I would have tried to grabJoseph from prison in Egypt, Daniel from the lion’s den in Babylon, Esther from the Persian hit man, Hayman…. and grabbed Paul away from persecuting Christians…. But God had a greater plan, And I would have sacrificed the future of the Jewish nation, and prevented the greatest evangelist from an encounter with Christ that would open the gospel of redemption to the gentile world! I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good.
Because God knows where you’re at and He has a plan for your comeback. He wants to display His power when the chips are down and everyone sees you as the underdog… Psalm 30:11 “Lord you have turned my mourning into dancing. You have put off my sackcloth and girded me with gladness. You have turned my sorrow into joy. No longer am I sad and filled with regret. You have taken away my disappointment and surrounded me with Your goodness”.
He knows the amazing outcome which will come forth from this hardship. And if I were to be able to spare you from all your difficulties, and hard places, I would leave you weak, and vulnerable and stripped of the personal strength and wisdom those places brought into your life. I would be saving you from your own personal Easter victory and triumph….As you begin to rise above the forces that tried to push you down!
I heard of a child who was anxiously waiting for eggs to hatch in an incubator, and one day she came home from school and one of the eggs was moving and she heard a tapping on the inside, so in her eagerness she broke the shell to let the chick out, and in doing so, it died. She didn’t realize that the process of pecking it’s way out of the hard shell, increased the blood flow to its whole body…and helped its heart to get stronger…. that the process of pecking its way out of the shell, strengthened its neck muscles and other muscles so it could be healthy.
This is what Job said in Job 23:9 “When He is at work in the north, I cannot behold Him; when He turns to the south, I cannot see Him. 10Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will come forth (from the test and the trial) as purified gold”.
If you stand at Easter and look back at all the Good Fridays that you have risen above , it declares to everyone that it’s never to late to be what you might have been or all you were meant to be!!
I want the gold without the heat that purifies it and gives it value. The heat that removes the impurities and things that diminish it, and cheapen it. You stand there stronger, wiser and more confident…
Kent Keith, a sophomore struggling in college, wrote the words that are often attributed to Mother Theresa…. “People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway. If you are honest and truthful, people may cheat you;
Be honest and truthful anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build it anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway. For, You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God; It was never between you and them anyway.
So instead of trying to save you from it, I’m helping you rise above it, that you might be true to yourself. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I'm asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I'm asking Him how I can best love you, and be a help to you. I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.” I pray this way because it may be Friday, but I know and believe your personal Easter Sunday is on it’s way…..
Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter and the one thing that stood unshakable between these two was the promise… John 2:19 -
“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this (my body) and in three days I will raise it up”. No matter how bad it looks, there’s a promise God has given you…..On Thursday evening and Friday, Things looked bad, really bad, for all those who were there at the beginnings of a great world wide movement, and the leader they gave up everything for !
On Friday The Disciples faith was so weak most of them were afraid to show their faces in public, and Peter even cursed and denied Christ. Well, too often, we too live somewhere between what is said and not meant, and what is meant but not said…..
On Friday morning, Pilate delivered Jesus over to the Romans soldiers, who took turns beating, whipping and scourging him unmercifully. Then, as if that wasn’t enough, they pulled out his beard, and put a crown of thorns on his head and mocked Him by shouting “Here’s the King of the Jews”…..meaning, (who’s gonnasave you now, you foolish people who believed in Him) On Friday they made Him carry His own cross through the streets of Jerusalem and the people who lined the sides of the road would strike Him, curse Him and spit on Him. On Friday they nailed him to the cross like a common Criminal. But it was not nails that held Him there, it was His devotion to the Father and His love for you and me… On Friday all of this so overwhelmed the Son of God that as the weight of all that was happening weighed downon Him, Jesus cried out “My God my God why have you forsaken me!” (have you ever felt that way?) On Friday they took Jesus off the cross and laid him in a borrowed tomb and all the Hopes and dreams of his disciples were with him.
And on Friday, the prince of Darkness, threw a party in Hell, and every demon celebrated what had taken millenniums to accomplish. They had finally succeeded in stopping God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. Mankind would now remain in the clutches of evil and the curse, with no way out! But what a difference a few days can make….
David got it….He said, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, Your rod of discipline and Your staff of guidance, they comfort me, You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup runs over”
That’s another way of saying “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s on it’s way”
Oh Yes, I love the way Isaiah puts it…. Isaiah 61:3 “He has appointed unto (has covenant with) those that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.”. That is your appointment with God in your journey through all that Friday throws at you until the fulfilled promise of Easter Sun.
Well, on Sunday, God’s heavenly reset button was activated, and the devil’s party was rudely interrupted… (Don’t you love it when Big Red’s party of hate, jealousy, greed, power, unforgiveness, sickness, hopelessness and strife are interrupted and shut down!!!)Fist Pump!!!
The pastor’s very sheltered and protected college-age daughter came running to him in tears. “Dad, you gave me some terrible financial advice!” Surprised, he said “I did? Exactly what bad advice was that?”. “You told me to put all my money in that big reputable bank, and now that big bank is in big trouble. "Well, you must be mistaken”, her dad said, “That’s one of the largest and most stable banks in the state.” “Well, I thought so too dad,” she said between tears. “But then they just returned one of my checks with a note that said, ‘Insufficient Funds’.” Well aren’t you glad that the Lord will always have enough Easter to cover all your Fridays, it will always be sufficient and more than enough.Our lack or our insufficiency can never be the measure of His worth! My friends, today, you can beat truth up, you can trample it in the streets, you can try to gag it, humiliate it, deprive it, and bury it, but just when you think truth is defeated, it will rise and expose every lie and deceptionthat comes against it!!!
Paul wrote about this in the second chapter of Philippians when he said…, Philippians 2:9 “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”
On Sunday, when the resurrected Jesus appeared to His Disciples their faith was strengthened and they would never be the same again. On Friday they were afraid of their own shadows, but on Sunday their faith was renewed and reset and they became men and women of faith, trust, and courage.
God has put you, and you alone in charge of painting your reality… There may be a red light at your intersection which requires that you stop for a certain season, or you may be at a yellow light, which is telling you to proceed with caution, but please know, that every red light eventually turns green when you get it right!
It’s been 2000 years and Friday still tries to cast its shadows across the land. Shadows of fear, hopelessness, and defeat. And sometimes it catches us when our guard is down, but even though the battle is still raging ,the victory is won ….Do what you can do, and expect God to do what you CAN’T DO!
John 10:10 tells us “The thief comes only to kill, steal and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”
The shadows of Friday are still evident! Families are being divided, marriages under fire, kids on drugs, divorce is on the horizon, it looks hopeless, how can it ever change, But your personal Easter is coming! Friday casts it’s shadow and Sickness drags on, weary in body and mind, healing is delayed, it’s one thing after the other, most of your phone numbers are some kind of doctor, pharmacy or hospital…. But your personal Easter coming!
Yes, we see can still see Friday’s shadows! Finances are stretched, mortgage is due, grocery prices have gone up, the cupboards are nearly empty, with the virus lurking outside your door, it doesn’t help matters…. But your personal Easter is coming!
The Fridays of our lives are different for everyone….our situations and circumstances are unique so our Friday seasons are unique as well. One size doesn’t fit all….I’m glad the person who named the Walkie Talkie, didn’t name a lot of other things…. Stamps would be “lickysticky”… Defibrillators would be “Hearty Starty”….Bumble Bees would be “Fuzzy buzzies”… Pregnancy tests would be “Maybe Baby”….Forks would be “Stabby Grabby”… Socks would be “Heaty Feety”… Hippoes would be “Floaty bloaties”… and nightmares would be “Screamy Dreamies”…
Here’s what some children wrote about their Friday seasons…Maybe you can relate…. Stephen. Age 8 wrote, “I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won't be there”. Arnold. Age 8 wrote, “I know God loves everybody but He must have never met my sister”. Alexander. Age 10 wrote, “Please say a prayer for our Little League team. We really need God's help or a new pitcher”. Carla. Age 10 wrote, Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished”.
Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters (of adversity), I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not drown you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned and the flames will not consume you”.
We can be confident, because God came up with our solution long before the devil came up with our problem! So, take back your power!!
OK, let’s look at some benefits as we push through our “Friday” experiences toward our Easter Reality… (and there are many more I could list)
Adversity brings us into an intensified learning zone of life..
When wolves show up, sheep get closer to the Shepherd
It reveals the true character of our friends.
It forces us to discover our weaknesses.
It brings humility into our lives with ourselves and others.
It brings appreciation for what we do have.
It reveals immaturity and flaws in our character.
It helps us redefine and reset our goals and dreams.
Good Friday closed with three powerful words of hope and expectation for everyone feeling those Friday shadows being cast upon them… Those words are “ IT IS FINISHED”!!! The Philipino people would *……say “Mabuhay” which means “Life long and live well” or Make your life count! “Christ died and lived again, so that we can do more than just live and then die!”Because the grave couldn’t hold Him, It won’t be able to hold those who trust in Him….
So If you don’t know how to get to the other side, He does!!!
We live our lives on this side of “It is finished”….which is the pre-curser to Easter victory! It is finished, is just another way of saying “it may be Friday, but Easter Sunday is now our reality”…..and it’s enough!
Charles Wesley wrote, “Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer's praise, the glories of my God and King, the triumphs of his grace! He breaks the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the sinner clean, His blood avails for me.”
Step into Your Easter Reality…..It truly is our bridge over troubled water