It is Good Friday! Humanly speaking, those are four off-days for a regular employee and if that happens to be a teacher/lecturer it’s time to give the students some space. Here in Kenya, a good number of people take these days to sleep, visit each other, and do charity work, catch-up with rest or entertainment. I have a list on a sticky note of a to-go list for this long weekend. However, together with millions of others, we are either creating Easter memes or viewing them as they land on social media.
Setting out to do reflections on the death of the Lord, two interesting observations struck me:
- An incredibly rich account from scriptures of the death of Christ. The records in the gospels suffice as historical, biological and spiritual go-to books. The details there are indisputable and resonate well with archaeological reports.
- The familiarity with the story of a man who died and rose again for men to be saved. The unfortunate part with this is that the most popular parts of this story are those tailored to sound pleasant and appealing, seeker sensitive versions.
- When it was fit for a sacrifice
Gen 3:6 – For the first time, that which was good since creation became corrupted. Curiosity asks, couldn’t they have waited until the 30th chapter to ruin it all? I mean, they were barely old enough in the story. Just after everything was created and animals were given names, the next thing you know, man is disobeying already.
Judgement was passed to the human race in entirety. The beautiful communion between God and man was ruined. The heart of man was constantly in pursuit of evil (the next chapter records the first murder). A few men are singled out by God as righteous, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, etc. The rest of humanity was in essence trying to dodge or painfully undergoing the judgment of a holy God.
Forgiveness was only attainable through shedding of blood. The blood of the animals was only enough for temporary atonement. Leviticus is full of regulations the Israelites were to follow to keep them ‘safe’ but the sin of God’s people could not be remitted by the blood of bulls and goats Hebrews 10:12.
Isaiah 61- Remedy to sin was not to make us good people. The idea is the restoration of human beings to the original communion with their maker. Prophets and angels could not comprehend God sending Christ to the earth for a death sentence for man.
2. The setting for death
There could not be a more timely time for Christ to start his mission than a time when carpenters were not tycoons. There was little admiration for a person who seemed to not strictly observe the stipulations of the Law of Moses. Mark records the first confrontation between Christ and the teachers of the law after the public healing of a paralytic Mark 2:6. The leaders would further be agitated in proceeding verses in Mark 2; tax collectors and other sinners sat at the same table to dine with Jesus, disciples not needing to fast, the corn eaten on Sabbath among others. While crowds followed Christ more for many reasons, the teachers of the law were increasingly finding annoyance in Christ.
Every time we ask why the teachers of the law hated Jesus, we paint the picture in our mind that they were severely evil people. R.C Sproul in an article from 2013 says we, being sinners like them, ascribe every conceivable sin that we think ourselves not guilty of. Nevertheless, they essentially disliked that he threatened their security, prestige and income as well as the peace they had brokered with the Roman rulers, which was almost a miracle.
Luke 22:53-71; the Lord is arrested. The religious leaders, his main accusers, trade him for a few coins. The evening sparked political ties between longtime enemies, Herod and Pilate, Luke 23:12. Pilate saw the accused as a minor offender and saw crucifixion as a rather outrageous claim from the leaders of the council. Herod, on the other hand, was dying with the curiosity of how an ordinary man would have that much fame.
3. The final breath
The book ‘Case for Christ’ by Lee Strobel explores in length the wounds from the torture before crucifixion as well as all the details biology gives to explain death on the cross.
To the Roman Empire, the successful implication of agonizing prolonged pain unto death was achieved.
To the soldiers, there were clothes to gamble for and a free afternoon to just increase the shame of the death.
To the thief on one side, there was a head full of final insults before he dies.
To the thief on the other side, there and then was granted to him the overwhelming honor of paradise.
To the worshiper of Yahweh, access was granted to approach the Lord directly as symbolized by the taring of the temple curtain.
To a centurion and all watching, affirmation that Jesus was Lord was just about what they needed.
To you and me, a death we deserved was taken by the Lamb of God and salvation was granted to us.
- Boldly live in the assurance that for your sin He who had no sin died. The Lord condemns us not but calls us to salvation. Firm confidence in worship to God. Through Him, we have life everlasting. The cross reminds us of all we cannot do by ourselves being made possible through Christ.
- The love of God should be made known to those that are still unaware and living in sin.
- May our hearts be filled with sorrow, not at pity of what happened to our Lord but that, which leads us to repentance and excites us to live Godly lives.