Good Friday Reflections

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

1 Corinthians 15:17-19

If Good Friday were the end of the story and the Man on the cross merely died, the way I’ve lived my life for the last 17-odd years has been nothing more than a waste.

Without the Resurrection, the sacrifices I’ve made, the pain I’ve endured, the hours spent in prayer and Bible study, the money gifted to the Church and missions – wasted. Useless. Meaningless.

But don’t ask me. Ask Moses, a Ugandan man who’s been run out of his home along with his wife and 6 children because of his decision to follow Yeshua instead of Mohammed.

Or Sukbati whose husband was murdered for his faith and who now must support five children in the midst of her grief. Yet she has said she will not give up on Jesus.

Without the Resurrection, Good Friday is no longer good. It becomes just a day that another man died – one of billions. And Moses and Sukbati and millions like them suffer needlessly – giving up ease in this life for no reason at all.

Worse yet, without the Resurrection, we are all still in our sins. Me, Sukbati, and all believers. Believe it or not, friends, that’s worse than any persecution or pain this life can throw at us.

It means an ancient and creeping death sickens our hearts and decays our spirits, destroying any hope of restoration with our Creator and making mockery of the innate desire for immortality we all hold deep within. That is what sin is, and how rightly we should feel horror at it.

But the good news of Good Friday is that it did not end when Yeshua declared, “It is finished,” and gave up His spirit.

Firstly, His death was an act of purpose – He gave up His spirit; it was not taken from Him. He died on purpose, giving His perfect life in payment of the debt we have all incurred by our rebellious ways.

Then, on the first Easter Sunday, God raised up His one and only Son, so that the final victory over sin and death has been won. Sin brought death into the world; the sinless life of Yeshua Messiah, Christ Jesus my Lord, took on death and defeated it by His return to life.

Now we who are in Christ live a life of self-sacrifice – not because we are good people or for some hope of self-improvement – but because we are grateful for the Man who bought back our souls from death.

The life I live, I do not live for the praise of others but out of sheer thankfulness. If He gave His perfect life for me, I can certainly give my broken mess right back to Him. It may not be much, but it’s all I have. And I give it willingly, grateful even if I am ever called to suffer the rest of my years for His sake, because He already suffered for mine.

The hope of Easter is not a hope for today or for any earthly good at all. It’s a hope for a future far beyond today; a hope that in 100 and 1000 and countless years beyond, those of us who follow Jesus now will be following Him still, rejoicing in His presence, forever freed from sin, death, and despair.

Forever adoring the One who first adored us so much that He gave up the life of His one and only Son that we may join Him in eternal worship.

Hallelujah! He is risen!

Tuesday Prayer: Purchased

When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30

O God, what can we say? As we look back on the work Jesus did on the cross – giving up His life of sinless perfection to pay the staggering cost of our transgressions – there are no words of gratitude powerful enough. We are humbled by Your love and favor; we are in awe of Your mercy and grace.

How can we express our thankfulness but to consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to You in Christ?  We are Yours, Lord! Thank You for setting us free from bondage to sin and to death and making us alive together with our Lord Jesus! By His death, our ransom is paid and the work of atonement is finished, once for all. But praise be to God, we do not serve Savior who is dead and gone.

And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen…”

Luke 24:5-6a

By His resurrection we are brought from death to life and made victors over sin. Hallelujah to our God and King, for our Savior is risen and now makes intercession for us at the right hand of the Father on High! 

O Most High God, we praise You for that first Resurrection Sunday and for the Risen Lord our King. Let us celebrate, not once, but each day all year long. May it be that we celebrate our new life in Christ by living our lives for You every single day.

Keep that momentous event fresh in our minds and hearts, Lord. Remind us daily, hourly, of the wonder of Your saving grace, the terrible price of Jesus’s sacrifice, and the glorious righteousness that He imparts to us because of it. 

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 6:19b-20

May we be ever mindful that our lives are no longer our own. We were bought with a staggering price – the lifeblood of Emmanuel – and have been redeemed as Your own possession. Teach us to live in this way, Lord. Train our hearts in obedience and shape our desires as You choose. May we live for You, love for You, and if necessary, willingly die for You.  

From this day and forevermore, Lord, use us as the instruments for Your purposes here on earth. May we hunger and thirst for Your righteousness, seeking first Your kingdom, and aligning our hearts with Yours. May our perspective be permanently changed as we learn to see the fleeting hours of our days through the lens of eternity. 

With this in view, may we devote our lives to fulfilling the great commission of our Lord Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all You have commanded us. And O Lord, teach us to obey first so that we can lead by our own actions, amen. 

A Prayer of God’s Splendor

El Shaddai, my Almighty God who has created the heavens and earth and all that are within them, today I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s eclipse. I am utterly in awe of Your sovereignty and power. In Genesis 1:14-15, Your word tells us that You created the sun, moon, and all the stars and put them in their place, and that they would be “for signs and seasons, and for days and years.”

Even though I was unable to see the total eclipse yesterday, the sheer knowledge of all the factors that had to be in place for an eclipse to occur at all is awe-inspiring. You did this, Lord!  You put this universe in motion and the heavens truly do declare Your glory and the sky above proclaim Your handiword, just as Psalm 19 states so well. Somehow, in the midst of a 99% eclipse, the wonder of Your power and plan gripped me. Yet even on a “normal” day, the heavens still proclaim You just as loudly. How I love to look up into the sky for that very reason!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
Psalms 19:1-2

Today, I ask that You will tune my heart and the hearts of my family to hear this heavenly praise and join it. As we think of yesterday’s solara eclipse, remind us of that eclipse so many centuries ago that occured right as Your Son gave up his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Not only that, but we ask You to reveal us of the things we allow to eclipse Your glory in our lives – family, money, career, entertainment – so many things! Forgive us for ever allowing anything at all to come between You and ourselves. Lord, remind us always that our eyes are to be set on Your glory and that our contentment, joy, and peace is found in You alone. Remind us also that even in our darkest hour, Your Light is never extinguished but only hidden for a time. Oh God, let Your Light shine brightly and boldly in us! Make us into blazing beacons for Your glory in this world, in the Name that is above all names, amen.

Psalms 19:7-14
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

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Passover

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And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
Luke 22:14-15

Holy Week had a special significance to me this year. For one thing, as I have mentioned before, I am coming out of an embarrassingly long temper tantrum during which I rather sulkily questioned God’s timing. But even my sulks are not wasted.

Perhaps even because of them – and because of the humbling reminders I have received – I have spent much of this past week in reflection on the sacrifice of my Lord, particularly since my own sin has been so visible to me recently.

However, there are other reasons why Holy Week has been particularly poignant to me this year. On Wednesday night, my small group was able to do something together that I have wanted to do for many years. We celebrated a Passover feast under the guidance of a Jewish man who was very happy to educate us on Passover, the seder, and any other questions we had.

It was very touching to me. Sitting there with my family and friends, going through the Seder, listening to all that was said – it was amazing. To think that not only did Yeshua celebrate a Passover every year of His earthly life, but He was also the ultimate Passover Lamb.

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Corinthians 5:7

For what He did, for His spotless life and innocent death, my sin has been passed over. Even my recent bout of unbelief. Even my fear and worry at this, a crossroads point of my race at which I am not certain of the correct direction to take.

All my sin – all of it – has been passed over because of Him.

Lord, I am truly humbled before Your throne. Thank You for paying the ransom for my unworthy soul. Thank You for answering one of the desires of my heart in being able to celebrate Your Passover this week. Help me to delight in You and only You, and forgive my fear and unbelief. Today, I lay my worries in the tomb and I look forward to seeing new life come into my heart and into my family as we celebrate Your victory over death tomorrow. May all we do be done for Your glory, amen. 

Happy Easter! He is risen!!