Admittedly, there has never been a worship bulletin with such a wealth of inspiration for my writing as the one from First Baptist Church, Freeport, Grand Bahama of 3/16/2014. I have saved the wonderful letter written by the pastor for our Good Friday topic.
In the Christian calendar, Lent traditionally goes from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve. It is a time when believers "give up something" or fast as a means of sacrifice in memory of that much greater sacrifice our Lord Jesus made for us. The forty days of the Lenten season are intended to be a time of personal introspection and corporate worship, but also a time of mourning for sin, both individual sin as well as the corporate sin of mankind. In contrast to Advent, a joyful time of anticipating the birth of our Savior, Lent is a time of anticipating the brutal death of that long-awaited Messiah.
The agony of the cross is easily overshadowed by the joy of the glorious resurrection we commemorate on Easter. In the midst of our Resurrection celebration, however, we must not lose sight of the price Jesus paid in order to make that empty tomb possible. Beaten, betrayed, humiliated, shamed, crucified, He died a criminal's death. It was what I deserved. It was what you deserved. Yet, because of His great love and mercy, He took our place. Our place. We must not lose sight of that fact.
He died instead of us, that we might live eternally with Him. It was also His intention that we might live free this side of heaven. He longed for us to be free from the bonds of sin that so easily entangle us. He broke those bonds with His death and resurrection. We can accept freedom. Much to our shame, we can also choose bondage, as well, and often we do.
The words Rev. Dr. Mitchell wrote are so timely that they bear repeating here. "Lent is that time of preparation when we prepare for our most wretched memory - the betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion of our loving and obedient Lord; but it is also the time of preparation for our most glorious celebration - the resurrection if our victorious Christ!
As always, we must take seriously the cross, with all of it's brutality and ugliness; we must not gloss over it on our way to Easter Sunday. Yet , we must be exuberant in our declaration: He lives! he lives !"
On this Good Friday evening, I invite you to join me in focusing on the price that was paid for our sin, and the agony it involved. I cannot envision loving mankind enough to suffer so greatly, and yet our Lord went willingly for us all.
Remember, and choose to live as one who has been redeemed.
In honor of Silent Saturday, when believers waited while Jesus was entombed, there will be silence on the blog, with no posts until Easter morning. May we be radically changed by the One whose death and resurrection made change and redemption possible.
The link for last night's post is here: