Saturday, April 19, 2014

For the first ... and only ... time in forever

"Why do we call it 'Good' Friday if that's when they killed Jesus?"

I think every kid who has been exposed to church life has asked this at one point or another.

When my kids were little (under 5) and asked the question, my answer was simple. "It WAS a bad thing that they hurt Jesus and killed Him. But Jesus let them do it because He loved the whole world and that includes us, and them too. He knew it was the only way to help us get to know His Daddy God." 

I remember recently going to see the movie, "Frozen." (By the way, I highly recommend that movie. There are some important firsts in it!!) There is a song in the movie called "For the first time in forever." And today as I was pondering the significance of 'Good' Friday - and of Resurrection Sunday - it occurred to me that the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross was the original "First time in forever" and that it would be the only time in forever - and that it would be enough. 

I've said a lot of things in the past on this blog about the horrors of that day. no picture could begin to describe the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual anguish He endured. But today, I want to talk about the joys of that Passover Friday. 

Photo "Hand Reach To Sky"
courtesy of samuiblue at
The obvious joy is that on that day, Jesus opened a way that previously had only been open to one person once a year for a limited time; when Jesus suffered, He was paying the penalty for our sin, the very thing that kept us from having a relationship with His Father. He was suspended at the crux between justice and love, taking on His own heart every sin that had ever been, was being, and ever would be committed - for the first and only time. No wonder His heart literally burst in His chest!! His suffering brought us peace. His bruises ushered in blessing. His heartache would bring us the happiness of communion with God. 

The Bible tells us that Jesus, "for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame..."  That verse always bugged me because, after all, didn't Jesus pray and ask for this cup to be removed?  I couldn't see past the pain of the cross.  The joy, however, that was set before Jesus was the joy of opening the door of access to relationship to whoever wanted to enter it.

Just before He died, He cried out, "It is finished!!"  The Greek term here is "tetelestai." It is a business term, and it refers to a 'done deal,' an iron-clad contract that cannot be broken. The transaction? our redemption. 

I believe that when He cried this word out, it was not a weak, defeatist "Oh finally THAT's over" .... but that it was a shout of victory! And that is the second reason why we call it 'Good' Friday.

It's enough. It's complete. It was the first AND ONLY time, enough for all of forever. Nothing to add to it, nothing could take away from it; the Cross stands alone, empty, uninhabited, unembellished; there is no need for more. We know it was enough (on the First Day) because God raised Him from the dead on the Third Day; death was swallowed up by victory and so, in victory, Jesus cried out, "It is done!" Death just didn't know it yet; its days were numbered and the number was three. 

The love of God could finally be poured out, without measure and with no conditions. The way was jammed open. Before, people didn't have a choice; it was behave or be automatically condemned. And now, every person can choose. Jesus did that. HE DID IT. 

For the first  ...  and only  ...  time in forever.

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