Friday, March 29, 2013

The "Good" in Good Friday

What's so good about Good Friday? Below are two articles. The first is from Dr John Stackhouse Jr, published in the Globe and Mail here. It reflects on the notion of sacrifice, blood symbolism, and evil that highlight the seriousness of sin, and in the process highlight the need for the cross of Christ.

The second is my meditation from my Sabbath Walk blog, published today. It provides three reflections on the cross of Christ. Here is an excerpt from the article. Read the full article here.

Let me offer three thoughts for Good Friday. Firstly, it is a Friday, just before the day of the Jewish Sabbath.   It is a remarkable look back at the creation week, where God rested after all the work have been done in the past six days. Just like the seventh day completes the entire work of creation, Good Friday completes the task of Jesus, as we remember Jesus emphatically saying in John 19:30 that, "It is finished." All the work, and all the ministry, culminates in this one historical event, the Cross of Christ. It is the Cross of Christ that finishes the necessary work of saving the world from sin. At the cross, Jesus paid it all. At the cross, Jesus carried all the burdens of the world. At the cross, Jesus offered forgiveness for the world, for all the wrongs the world had committed in thought, word, or deed. For it is on Good Friday, Jesus rested completely, for his work on earth has been done.

Secondly, the old rugged cross represents the centrality of the gospel of Christ.When we celebrate something, we need to ask ourselves what are we celebrating from? As we think about Resurrection Sunday, we ask ourselves what is Christ rising from? When we think about victory, we need to remind ourselves what we are winning from? Without Good Friday, there is no meaning in Easter Sunday. The late John Stott has written passionately about the three central things accomplished at the cross, namely, to save sinners, to reveal God, and to conquer evil. In one sweep, all three things are accomplished to perfection and to God's complete satisfaction. Stott also notes that the Acts of the Apostles are less about the resurrection of Christ, but more on the centrality of the cross of Christ. From Peter to John, Stephen to Paul, it is the cross that gives the early disciples the power and the reason to live. For if the cross is the existential reason for our work and ministry as Christians, the resurrection builds upon this as our faith and hope for the future.

Thirdly, Good Friday is the culmination of the horizontal and vertical relationships of mankind and creation. The Cross is a visual symbol of a vertical reconciliation with God. It is also a horizontal reconciliation with fellow people. At the cross, Christ embodies the essence of love, and the greatest commandment of God. Stott says that "the cross enforces three truths - about ourselves, about God and about Jesus Christ." These three truths essentially nail down the reality of man, the divinity of God, and the humility of Jesus. The Cross represents so many things that it can be easily misunderstood. That is why I think it is an apt summary of what reconciliation is all about. Only through the cross, we can be saved from our sins. Only through the cross, God is revealed through the greatest act of love. Only through the cross we get to overcome evil. Only through the cross, we understand the significance of the Resurrection.


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