Summary: time intersects with eternity, especially at the cross on Good Friday.
Slain from the Foundation of the World
TCF Good Friday Sermon
April 10, 2009
The crucifixion is perhaps the most significant place in time, where time intersects with eternity. Of course, God interacts with time often. We could easily make a case that He does it constantly, daily, moment by moment, as His Holy Spirit is moving in ways we can see and cannot see – even as He sends His angels to do His bidding, in ways we can discern sometimes, and most often do not.
But in the crucifixion of Jesus, which we mark tonight, we have clear evidence in scripture, which tells us God’s eternal plan is being worked out in a very real, very practical way, before our eyes – that is, before the eyes of those who witnessed the events of the 1st Good Friday, and before our eyes as we consider the accounts of that day, written in the Word of God.
Scripture is clear that the crucifixion was not an accident that couldn’t be helped. It wasn’t an afterthought by God, when the world seemed to get out of His control, as sin began to spread from the first man and woman, throughout mankind, and down through the centuries to us. It wasn’t His fallback plan, plan B, when His creation chose to rebel, to sin, to reject Him.
Scripture reveals our great God as omniscient – all knowing. Because He’s also omnipotent – all powerful – He is able to take the things He knows will happen, even those things we might see as bad, and bring good from them.
As we saw with Palm Sunday, the crucifixion, too, was a planned event, scripted more carefully than the best stage play you ever saw – the best TV show or movie you ever watched. Only this was ultimate reality, and not fiction. And this was a drama which was scripted before time began.
But, continuing with the script analogy, the crucifixion was simply act three of this amazing story of this amazing week in history. Act One we might say was Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Act Two took place in the Upper Room, the events we considered last night. Today is Act 3, and we’ll look at the happy ending in Act Four on Sunday.
Of course, this is only a part of the story of God’s plan of redemption, but I think it’s clearly the most significant part.
The climax of Lord of the Rings was the defeat of Sauron, accomplished by the destruction of the Ring. It took, at least on film, three separate movies, three hours long each, to accomplish.
The climax of God’s plan to redeem humanity took place on Good Friday, on the cross, even though the plan truly began before time itself.
Revelation 13:8 calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”
But, does that mean Jesus died before He lived? We’re used to trying to wrap our minds around a lot of impossible ideas, but this? How could Jesus have been slain from the creation of, or foundation of, the world?
This is where we must pause to wonder – not wonder as if we begin to ask or wonder what’s going on, but to stand in amazement, or wonder, at God’s view of time and eternity.
God exists outside of time. Yes, He interacts with His creatures in time, now, and through the person of Jesus when He walked the earth. But, God is separate from us, completely other from us. Some philosophers have said that God lives in an eternal now, meaning there’s not really a yesterday, today and tomorrow for God.
The idea is that, God is able to look down, as if He were above it, on time, and the events in time. God sees it all at once. Of course, in our view, and our understanding, we’re restricted by before, during and after – linear time. You have to be born before you can live and then die.
But if God knows and responds to our life in time, and interacts with time, from His position in eternity, we can just begin to grasp, if not fully understand, how He can foresee the response of His free creatures to His love. We can begin to grasp how He can foresee the fall, our sin, and He can foresee the need for our redemption. In that way, Jesus is slain from the foundation of the world.
What it means is that, before there was time, before we existed, He had already put in place the plan for our redemption. We see this stated in a different way in 1 Peter:
1 Peter 1:18-21 (NIV) 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.