Friday, March 25, 2016

Three reasons why we can say "Good Friday" is good

Galatians 3:13-14 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

What is Good Friday? Many churches and Christians the world-over celebrate the Friday before Easter Sunday as a time to reflect on the crucifixion of Jesus. The book "Preaching through the Christian Year" (Edited by Fred Craddock; John H. Hayes; Carl R. Holladay and Gene M. Tucker) notes the following about how one ought to celebrate "Good Friday": "Good Friday services tend to focus on the suffering of Jesus as the servant of God. This is a corrrect and proper theme for the day. Good Friday also, however, looks forward, beyond itself, beyond suffering and humiliation, to exaltation, triumph and Easter." Henceforth we can see the "Good Friday" is indeed all about the "Good News" of Jesus' accomplishment on the cross and of course, what would ultimately be the confirmation of that accomplishment by His resurrection from the dead.

Such thoughts remind me of a question someone asked me a few years ago: Why is Good Friday Good? When that question was posed to me, I began to reflect on what the scriptures explain concerning Christ's accomplishments on the cross. As we endeavor to answer this question, we can find the answer by looking at Galatians 3:7-14. I want today's post to take a deeper look at what Jesus achieved on the cross, so as to understand why this day is indeed a day of triumph for the Christian (and how it can be yours if you're not one yet). The Apostle Paul lays out three reasons why the Friday that Jesus died on the cross was indeed Good Friday.

Salvation's Promise was completed
Let's consider the first "good" that was accomplished on "Good Friday": Salvation's promise was completed. Galatians 3:8 states - "The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” Over 2,000 years before Christ came, the grace of God came to a man named Abram. God brought to Abram to a land that He promised to show him - Canaan. In Genesis 13 Abram is told to walk that land. Later on the "promise" to Abram regarding a physical descended would be fulfilled in the birth of his son Isaac in Genesis 21. This overall redemptive theme of "promise" runs from Genesis to Malachi.  It began with Eve and was re-articulated by God to Abraham, to his descendants, to Moses, the prophets, kings such as David and regular people like Ruth.

The Promises of salvation were carried out through the scarlet bloodline of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. By the time we come to the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew lists 42 generations spanning from Abraham down to Jesus, wherein the "seed of promise" was culminated. The Promise turned out not to be abstract - but concrete. What had been an overarching principle of God's redemptive purposes in the Old Testament would turn out to culminate in the Person of the Son. God the Son, the Promiser, came to embody the Promise in true humanity as Jesus Christ. When Christ in His humanity breathed His last on that First Good Friday, over 100 prophecies were fulfilled. The Promise that pointed to the Person achieved the full payment of substitutionary death of the Savior in the place of sinners. So "Good Friday" is good because salvation's promise was fulfilled, but notice secondly...

Sin's Curse was Broken
Why did Jesus Christ go to the cross? Did it really matter how He shed His blood? Why didn't Jesus come down on a weekend, go to a doctor, have the doctor prick His finger, put blood in a vial, and catch the next chariot back to Heaven? It may very well had been easier, but not effective. He had to experience the virgin birth and grow through all the stages of humanity to experience what we experience - yet without sin. But there's something more.

You see, when Adam sinned - a curse was pronounced (Genesis 3:15-19).  Adam ate from the wrong tree, and was barred from gaining access to the tree of life. In order for man to ever gain access to the tree of life, a perfect man - that is to say, a "New Adam" - would have to be placed upon a tree of death. Galatians 3:13 quotes Deuteronomy 21:23, which tells us "cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree".

The curse of Eden was broken at Calvary. Christ accomplished in His humanity what needed paid for by man and provided salvation that He as God alone could provide. The Promise of salvation was completed! Finished! Paid in full! Never to be repeated again!  But notice the third thing that makes Good Friday Good....

Saving benefits received by faith
Galatians 3:14 states - "in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." Now let's be clear - The Event of Good Friday must become an experience in your life. Salvation is not automatic. All that Christ accomplished on that First Good Friday was an objective event of History - which is to say - an event that is true and occurred apart from what you may or may not believe. With that said, unless you by grace through faith subjectively receive that event - its benefits won't be applied to you.  As the passage states - all this was done by Christ "so that the promise of the Spirit (could come) through faith."

That phrase "through faith" could be rendered "through the faith" - meaning the Divine Gifting of faith that operates in salvation becomes a free decision of faith wherein I freely believe and receive all who Christ is and all He has done (Ephesians 2:8-9; James 1:18). When you by grace through faith freely and truly trust in Jesus - the benefits of Good Friday make everyday of your life a Resurrection Day (Romans 10:8-10). 

Closing thoughts:
So what three reasons can we offer in answer to the question: "why is Good Friday good?" 

1. Salvation's Promise was fulfilled
2. Sin's curse has been broken
3. Saving benefits are received by faith. 

It is for these reasons that "Good Friday" is good.

That phrase "through faith" is in reference to "The Faith", "the gift of faith", wherein I choose Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord, Treasure.

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