Summary: There is a cost to every gift and the Gift of Easter was bought and paid for on Good Friday
Sometimes we hear people refer to the gift of Easter, and on Sunday we are going to reflect on the generosity that made Easter a reality for us, and for the gifts that are extended to us because of the resurrection. But that is Sunday and this is Friday.
You see there couldn’t be a Sunday without a Friday. Easter Sunday couldn’t and wouldn’t exist without Good Friday. Because every gift, at least every gift that is truly a gift must cost somebody something. It might be time, it might be money but there is a cost there. And so before Jesus could be raised from the dead he had to die, before we can accept the gift of salvation a debt has to be paid, in order for a sacrifice to be acceptable there has to be a cost to the person making the sacrifice. Without a cost it might be a nice gesture but it wouldn’t be a sacrifice.
It was British playwright John Osborne who said “The whole point of a sacrifice is that you give up something you never really wanted in the first place.” But that isn’t really sacrifice, And on the Friday of the Passover weekend, the concept of a sacrifice would be understood.
Jews from around the world would have gathered in Jerusalem to worship God and offer sacrifices as a part of that worship. And while we might not be able to get our heads around the concept of animal sacrifice today, that was the norm two thousand years ago. And so on that weekend there were lambs and pigeons that were brought to the temple and bought at the temple for the express purpose of being offered to God as a sacrifice in the temple. And each of those animals cost somebody something. There were also financial offerings that were given that weekend, and regardless of how much it represented for the person who gave, that money could have been spent somewhere else on something else.
And so before we can get to Sunday and see the gifts that were given we are going to settle in for a little bit on this Good Friday to see what those gifts cost.
Three years before this chapter of Jesus’ story would conclude, it began and the story was defined by probably most memorized verse in the bible. John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. Listen to that again, John 3:16 For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For those of us who are parents here is the question: who is there in the world that you loved so much that you would willingly sacrifice one of your children for them?
And so the first point is the most obvious point and that is Friday Cost the Father His Son The Trinity and the nature of God is and will remain a mystery to us until our eyes are opened on the other side of eternity. How can one God exist as three persons? How can there be a Son who has always been?
I have always maintained that a God that we could explain or understand would not be much of a God. I don’t understand everything about my smart car, I can’t explain how my computer works and don’t even get me started on my lack of understanding of women. And that’s all right. And yet we have the desire to be able to understand and explain the greatest mystery of the universe.
And we may not understand it completely, but we can understand the relationship that exists between a parent and a child, that we can understand. And as parents we can understand how we feel when our child is bullied or hurt and for some of you, you can even understand the pain of losing a child.
And if you knew that your child would suffer humiliation and physical pain and separation from you that would be heart breaking. Even if you knew that in the end it would be all right, you wouldn’t want your child to go through that.
But that is what happened on Good Friday, and God the Father’s heart must have been broken when he heard his Son call out from the cross, Mark 15:34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Can you imagine having your child think you had turned your back on them in their time of greatest need?