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Friday, 29 March 2013

What's so "good" about Good Friday?

It does seem to be a strange way in which to refer to the day in which the focus for so many is the excruciatingly painful death, of an apparently innocent man, almost 2,000 years ago.  "Bad Friday"; "Black Friday"; even "Miserable Friday"; would surely be much more accurate!  So why "Good Friday"?

To understand this, we must go back to the very beginning of the human race, in that beautiful Garden "... in Eden, in the east;" (Gen 2:8).  Have you ever stopped to imagine it?  Planted by the Creator Himself, in a world in which there was no sin - in which mankind could meet with, and converse with, his Creator in a perfect relationship.  Truly paradise on earth!

However, such an idyllic state of affairs didn't last for long.  The story is there for all to read (Gen.3:1ff).  mankind - male and female - the pinnacle of creation, disobeyed even a simple command, and sin entered the world.  What could be done?  Mankind was punished; but a promise was given.  In what theologians refer to as the protoevangelium (literally, the first gospel), Almighty God says to the serpent, "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." (Gen 3:15).  That "seed" is Jesus - the Christ (Messiah); and it is He Who hung upon that cross on that first Good Friday.

And that is why it is good!  The essence of the Gospel is that God loved the world so very much that, in Jesus, He paid the penalty that we owed; He took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved; He made it possible, again, for us to enjoy close communion with Him.  But it all depends on that Figure on the Cross at Mount Calvary (Golgotha).  Centuries before, the Jewish prophet, Isaiah, was granted a peek into the mists of future time.  He wrote, concerning the Lord Jesus: "He was despised and rejected by men; a Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as One from Whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with 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; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgement He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in His death, although He had done no violence,and there was no deceit in His mouth.  Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief; ..." (Isa. 53:3-10).  And for us - you and me - that's Good News!

Hallelujah!  What a Saviour!  Praise Him for this Good Friday!

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