Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday: How Did We Get Here?

It’s Friday. And I can’t help but wonder how it is that we got here to the events of Calvary? 

How is it that the baby whose arrival was heralded by angelic choirs is now a man hanging on perpendicular pieces of wood?

How did the toddler who was worshiped by wise men from afar wind up beaten and rejected? 

How did the 12-year-old boy about to become man confound the teachers of the law yet on this day find himself mocked and condemned by the religious leaders? 

How is it the God-man who calmed storms, raised the dead, and made 5 loaves and 2 fish enough is now bound by nails at his hands and his feet and is suffocating to death?

It’s Friday. And I can't help but wonder how it is that we wound up here at a cross?

Three Reasons We Did Not Get to Friday

1) We did not get to Friday because of
The sin of humanity.
We could talk about the evil in the heart of humanity and don’t get me wrong, sin has a part to play in this story but all the plotting and the scheming in the dark of men’s hearts is not what got us to Friday. This day is here because of far more than humankind run amuck.

2) We did not get to Friday because
Jesus loved us so much that He died on the cross for us.
Hear me well...Jesus loves us, this I know. But to wrap the day up by claiming the love Jesus had for humanity superseded all else and led him to the cross? I can’t buy it. Yet we say variations on this statement and sing this kind of theology all of the time. 

Take the song “Above All”:  
The last part of the chorus says, 
Like a rose trampled on the ground
He took the fall
and thought of me above all.

Really? Jesus is hanging on the cross and above all other things I become king in the mind of Jesus? It’s a nice sentiment and we love to talk about it, but I have to say that it is not true. To say Jesus thought of me or you above all other things would make Him an idolater because it implies we hold more importance than the Father. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was sufficient. "He who knew no sin became sin for us." (2 Corinthians 5:21) Jesus was the capable and sufficient sacrifice for all people at all times. 

Take the popular Good Friday song "Via Dolorosa":
The last part of the chorus says, 
But He chose to walk that road 
out of love for you and me
down the Via Dolorosa all the way to Calvary.

Jesus’ love for us is real but it is not what motivated Him to endure the cross. 

3) We did not get to Friday because
Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sin.
The implication with this statement is that the motivation for Jesus dying was to save us from sin. And the danger here is that we confuse results with motivation. 
Truth: Jesus died on the cross. 
Truth: As a result of Jesus' death on the cross we do receive salvation from sin. (Hallelujah!)
But it is imperative that the church not confuse results with why we do what we do. The moment potential outcomes becomes our compulsion for action is the moment we veer off course.

We have to careful about how we talk about this day. 
It’s Friday. And I keep asking myself how it came to this? 
I want to know how the baby born of Spirit in the Bethlehem is divinity with mangled flesh at Golgotha. As I scour the scriptures and consider the life of Jesus, His last days and hours, I come to one conclusion...

It’s Friday. 
And we got here because
Jesus Christ trusted the heart of the Father. 
I am convinced that the message of Friday is a message of trust. 
The path to the cross is the way of trust.
The road from Bethlehem to Calvary is paved by trust.

Three True Things About the Way of Trust

1) The way of trust is
Rooted in the Nature of God.
Any trust we have in God is based on what is true of Him and how He works. The way of trust has to start with the nature of God.

Do you believe that God is good?
Do you believe that God is faithful?
Do you believe that God is able?
Do you believe that God is sovereign?
Do you believe that God desires your best and will work all things for your good as you trust him?

Now do you believe these things are true of God even when circumstances would seem to deny them? That’s where Jesus was. His life, from all outward appearances, was falling apart. Followers were dwindling. Those with authority and influence were seeking to destroy Him. He had been betrayed and denied and deserted. But in the way of trust, circumstances are not allowed to define what is true of God.

Jesus was God with skin on but He was subjected to the same temptations and trials we are. There would have been plenty of room for Jesus the man to allow circumstances to define God but Jesus Christ knew who His Father was.

2) The way of trust is
Nurtured in Relationship with God.
Jesus faces a moment of decision on Thursday night in the Garden of Gethsemane. I personally believe this garden prayer became the moment Jesus determined Friday would dawn as salvation day. But this prayer was not a new habit Jesus was developing now that the pressure was getting unbearable. Jesus’ prayer in the garden is the result of an already established discipline in His life. Over and again in the scripture we see Jesus nurturing relationship with His Father by getting away to pray.

3) The way of trust 
Displayed in Obedience to God
Trust will always, always, always lead to obedience. 

We can obey for a lot of different reasons; fear of punishment, fear of consequences, fear of rejection. We can be obedient outwardly while simultaneously being rebellious inwardly.
God, however, is not interested in the outside. He’s wants our heart. God is looking deep and He cares about why you do what you do. That’s why Jesus called the Pharisees white-washed tombs. On the outside they looked good but inside they were rotting.

I used to explain that we got to Friday because Jesus obeyed the Father. And it’s true, Jesus did obey the Father but His obedience flowed out of His trust. Obedience should come from a posture of trust.

It’s Friday. And the swaddled babe in Bethlehem is a bloodied man at Calvary.
And we get here because Jesus Christ trusted the Father.
And if you aren’t convinced yet... 
then turn your gaze to the Savior, 
hanging by nails and gasping for breath as His lungs give way to suffocation
and hear the last words He speaks...

"Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit."
Even with His last breath, Jesus was proclaiming that the cross is the way of trust.
Even with His last breath He spoke the words that He had lived out all of His life.

"Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit."
It's as if He was saying, 
Daddy, my life is Yours. Father, I trust you. I am safe in your keeping.

That’s how we get to the cross.

It's Friday. And we got here because Jesus walked the way of trust.

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