Summary: A meditation for Good Friday.
A Not So Good Friday
Max Lucado has written:
“Jesus was born crucified. Whenever he became conscious of who he was, he also became conscious of what he had to do. The cross-shaped shadow could always be seen. And the screams of hell’s imprisoned could always be heard.
This explains the glint of determination on his face as he turned to go to Jerusalem for the last time. He was on his death march (Luke 9:51).
This explains the resoluteness in the words, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:17–18 NIV).…
So call it what you wish: An act of grace. A plan of redemption. A martyr’s sacrifice. But whatever you call it, don’t call it an accident. It was anything but that.”
Good Friday was not so good. We like the story of the Conquering King – but we squirm at the thought of a Suffering Servant. Yet that is what Jesus was – He was our Suffering Servant – before He became our Conquering King. We are reminded of this fact on Good Friday. It is a day of darkness. The Latin word for darkness is “tenebrae”. It can also mean “shadows”. If ever there was a day of shadows in Christian history – it was a not so Good Friday. It was a day when all light – all hope – seemed to be extinguished. The candle of Christ – the light set on a hill – was gone. The disciples were left – confused – bewildered – with feelings of defeat. Why should they have been? Did they not know the scripture? Did they not realize that He must come as a Suffering Servant – before He would return as a Conquering King. Please join me as I read the scriptures:
LEADER: "Just watch my servant blossom! Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd! But he didn’t begin that way. At first everyone was appalled. He didn’t even look human— a ruined face, disfigured past recognition.” Isaiah 52:13-14 (MSG)
LEADER: “The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.” Isaiah 53:2 (MSG)
ALL: “He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.” Isaiah 53:3 (MSG)
LEADER: “We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.” Isaiah 53:6-7 (MSG)
ALL: “Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.” Isaiah 53:8-9 (MSG)
LEADER: “God, God... my God! Why did you dump me miles from nowhere? Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning. And you! Are you indifferent, above it all, leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise? We know you were there for our parents: they cried for your help and you gave it; they trusted and lived a good life. And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm, something to step on, to squash. Everyone pokes fun at me; they make faces at me, they shake their heads: "Let’s see how God handles this one; since God likes him so much, let him help him!" Psalms 22:1-8 (MSG)
ALL: “Now answer me, God, because you love me; Let me see your great mercy full-face. Don’t look the other way; your servant can’t take it. I’m in trouble. Answer right now! Come close, God; get me out of here. Rescue me from this deathtrap.” Psalms 69:16-18 (MSG)
LEADER: “When they got to the place called Skull Hill, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing." Dividing up his clothes, they threw dice for them. The people stood there staring at Jesus, and the ringleaders made faces, taunting, "He saved others. Let’s see him save himself! The Messiah of God—ha! The Chosen—ha!" The soldiers also came up and poked fun at him, making a game of it. They toasted him with sour wine: "So you’re King of the Jews! Save yourself!" Printed over him was a sign: this is the king of the jews.” Luke 23:33-38 (MSG)