Summary: Good Friday is Good News, especially if we are experiencing something of the pain and anguish of Good Friday ourselves. God knows and God cares - God has been there Himself, in Jesus.
I received an email from a friend this week which reminded me of something which a 3 year old boy is alleged to have said. It seems that the little boy was convinced that God’s first name was Harold and that God spent most of his time painting and modelling and drawing; because he began the Lord’s Prayer like this: “Our Father, who does Art in heaven, Harold be thy name”! Well sometimes what can seem like a trivial joke, or even to some an insult to the prayer which Jesus taught, can be a lesson for us as his disciples today.
Whilst God is not like any artist that I have come across, he is (in a sense) the heavenly artist – the designer and the creator of all things. Right at the start of the Bible Moses records this about God: Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
More and more scientists now refer to ‘Intelligent Design’. Some cannot bring themselves to refer to God, but many can and do. The Bible is clear, and whilst the name is not ‘Harold’ the Bible gives a name to the designer, the Creator. As we continue through the Bible we learn his name – Yahweh.
When God’s people were slaves in Egypt God saw their misery (Exodus 3:7). God spoke to Moses and said (Exodus 3:15), “Yahweh, the God of your Fathers …has sent me to you. This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” Now that is good news! God is not some unseen, unknown entity. God has a name. God can be known. God wants to be in relationship with us.
What’s God like? How does God react to injustice, poverty, bereavement, religious people who do religious rituals but shun relationship with God?
Jesus is the supreme revelation of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15) Jesus is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:19-20) God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
If you want to know what God is like then get to know Jesus. If you want to know how God reacts to a whole variety of situations then get to know Jesus.
Jesus was flogged (John 19:1). Jesus was mocked (19:2). Jesus was struck in the face (19:3). People still do that to the name of Jesus today.
Jesus was tempted in every way yet he never sinned. On the cross Jesus died a cruel human death; and because the fullness of God dwelt in Jesus that means that God has experienced death.
When we face times of despair, times of pain and anguish, times of death or bereavement, we have a friend in Jesus who has been there himself and he is able to sympathise with us in all of our weaknesses.
The phrase ‘been there, done that, read the book, seen the film and bought the tee-shirt’ comes to mind. Whatever bad stuff you may be facing right now God knows about it. Even if God seems to be silent he will bring you through it. Jesus cried out “My God my God why have you forsaken me” (Psalm 22); but that is only the first line of a Psalm which later says of God, “You who fear the Lord praise him! For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22: 23-24).
I think I’m right in saying that Astronauts go through periods of radio blackout. If you are facing a time of spiritual radio blackout don’t forget: Sunday’s coming! Using those words of Tony Campolo which I love, "It’s Friday ...but Sunday’s a comin!" Hallelujah!