Journey Through Holy Week – Friday

It’s Friday, April 3, 33 AD.  All roads from this past week have led to this moment. God is hanging on the cross, dying. Before you read this short blog, if you have not taken time today to read the Scriptural Account of Good Friday, please do so first.  This will be a very average blog and the Gospels contain the very words of God.  It might be wise to read God first. 

Christians have called this particular Friday good for many years.  To a bystander, using the phrase Good Friday to describe Jesus’ death may be more of an oxymoron than a tautology. On a Friday, nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus, the Messiah, fully God and fully man, died.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). On the cross, Jesus was “the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).  On the cross, “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3b).  This is certainly good news. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but instead of you and I dying, Christ has died for us. He had paid the penalty for our sin; He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).  Today is both Friday and it is a very good day.

While it is good, we also grieve today.  Our hearts are heavy as we gather in our respective churches to remember Jesus’ death and to commemorate His life and work in the Lord’s Supper. As you worship tonight, you have the ability to do one of two things.  I think they can best be described through the life of Judas and Peter.  Most of you know their lives well.  What do you do when you see Jesus?  Both Judas and Peter were remorseful for their sinful actions toward God.  You must come to the cross remorseful over your personal sin. That is where the stories diverge into two very different tales.  They were both remorseful for sin, but Judas’ remorsefulness led to his suicide.  Peter’s remorsefulness led to repentance.  On this Good Friday, be remorseful for your sin but allow it to lead you to repentance not to eternal death.  I think I forget the rest of Romans 6:23; not only does it say “the wages of sin is death,” Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, continues. “The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

As you walk through the rest of your day, feel the weight of Christ’s death; feel the weight of your personal sin.  Be remorseful and allow your remorse to lead you to confession and repentance. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9.  Now that is good news; it’s very good news.  Christian, when was the last time you considered your ongoing sin enough to bring you to remorse and repentance?  Today may be a good day for you.  Christ died for your sins!

A Journey Through Holy Week – Thursday

Wednesday was relatively quiet. However, it’s Thursday, April 2, 33 AD. The events of Maundy Thursday quickly progress from an intimate fellowship meal to a dark evening of betrayal and arrest. The Apostle John invites us into the heart of Jesus. We are given a front-row seat to the words of encouragement and challenge Jesus gives his disciples. John’s account begins in chapter 13. John writes, “It was just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

John seemed not so concerned about the events of Thursday night but the heart of the evening. At the time of John’s writing, the events of the crucifixion were well established in the synoptic Gospels. On this last night, you must see our Savior’s hope. John says that it is time to leave this world and go to the Father. Jesus knew the tomb was not the end. The burial became not a cul-de-sac with a dead end, but a highway to renewed fellowship with the Father. As you read the accounts of Thursday, please consider the hope of Jesus.

Jesus and His disciples gather together for the Passover Meal. Jesus was eager to eat this meal and made sure everything was perfect. In the Final Days of Jesus, the authors remind us that this was the “last supper” in a few ways: “the last meal that Jesus would eat with his disciples, the last meal that Jesus would eat in his pre-glorified body, and the final Passover meal of the old covenant.” [1] Even with all the preparation, something was missing. There were no slaves in attendance to wash the feet of those gathered. There is no way Peter, James, John, or one of the other 12 will stoop to wash each other’s feet. But God would stoop. Jesus took upon Himself the garments of a slave, knelt, and washed the stinky and dirty feet of the men. Jesus even knelt to wash his betrayer’s feet before the betrayer would offer Jesus a kiss of deceit.

Jesus taught so many things during these last hours with His men. In the hours before His death, he was teaching the men about love, peace, spiritual power, hope, joy, and intimacy with the triune God. He warned them that pain would proceed the promised joy. The hours of His earthly life were quickly ending, but He still worried about others.

It’s Maundy Thursday. Do you know why they call it Maundy Thursday? While Jesus was teaching, he was loving. In John 13:34, Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” In Latin, the words “new command” is “mandatum novum.” From the Latin, we get Maundy. All the events of Maundy Thursday remind you and me that we are loved, and we reciprocate that love to God and to others. “By this [love] all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:35). If you truly grasp what Jesus is doing, you will love others. On this Maundy Thursday, how is your love relationship with others? I find myself loving people I like or who are like me well. But I fall short of loving those different than me, and I don’t love my enemies as well as I should. I pray we can all be more like Jesus in this regard. I pray this Maundy Thursday will make you consider how you are loving others and love more like Jesus.

[1]            Andreas J. Kostenberger and Justin Taylor, The Final Days of Jesus: The Most Important Week of the Most Important Person Who Ever Lived (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014), 60.