Good Friday - 10 April 2020
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
Hi there, this is Christy
What is Good Friday all about and why do we call it “good”? To understand this, you’ll need a brief rundown of events leading up to it – here’s what I can tell you:
* The Bible tells us that God created the universe, and the earth, and everything in them.
* On earth, God created human beings to enjoy and care for all he had made. They were the pinnacle of his creation and he enjoyed a deep, loving relationship with them.
* Because all deep, loving relationships require the free will to choose who to love, God gave human beings the free will to choose him or reject him. They chose to reject him and lost that close, loving relationship with him.
* This decision unleashed all kinds of evil into the world, from selfishness to murder, from drought to hurricanes, from sickness to death; for not to choose God, who is light, life, love and all that is good, is to choose His opposite, which is deception, darkness, self-centredness and death.
* The whole of humanity and all creation was tainted by that choice and thereafter every single one of us has found within ourselves a tug of war between good and evil. No single human being is completely good or completely evil; always we find ourselves somewhere on a spectrum between the two. We could never, of our own doing, ever attain the kind of selfless loving perfection that would allow God to be in a deep loving relationship with us ever again.
* Over time, through the Jewish nation, God revealed a plan to give those humans who choose to restore a relationship with God the chance to do so. Time and again in the stories of the Old Testament (as recorded in the first part of the Bible) humans were shown that God longs to forgive and restore them, but that because he is completely just, all wrongdoing requires a deserved punishment.
* To help people understand the cost of their wrongdoing, the practice of sacrifice came into being – an innocent animal could take the place of the guilty human, paying the penalty for all that person’s wrongdoing by losing it’s life in the place of the human, and so allowing the human to be purified of wrongdoing and restored to a perfect relationship with God.
* The problem was, that no human can really make it through a single day only choosing good. All too quickly we find ourselves participating in gossip, or snapping an angry remark, or choosing to put our own needs above those around us. Even on our best days, when the good far outweighs the bad, we never seem to get it completely right. And then there are those who grow up in abusive homes or regimes and become even worse abusers themselves… what hope is there for the power-hungry, sadists, murderers, molesters, and blatant God-haters to ever change and return to God? Are some acts just too big to ever overcome? What kind of sacrifice would be required to cover all the possible wrongdoing of humankind?
* Throughout the Old Testament, prophecies begin to emerge of a Messiah – a sinless man who would take on himself the wrongdoing of all humanity and so become the ultimate sacrifice. The only way any human could be completely perfect was if he was both God (perfect) and man (subject to our temptations and weaknesses). Also, to be the perfect sacrifice, he would have to choose of his own free will to sacrifice himself on behalf of others. Was such a thing even possible?
* In the New Testament, we see the miraculous arrival of Jesus Christ – the Messiah who had been foretold for so many centuries. In his lifetime, he fulfilled the prophecies about him in the Old Testament. He loved people, taught, healed, prayed and lived a human life. He was extremely popular and many who encountered him described his presence and the words he spoke as being life-giving.
* Unfortunately, Jesus’ popularity did not endear him to the religious leaders of the time, many of who had been politically placed, rather than out of any sense of devotion to God. They began to plot his death.
* Throughout his ministry, Jesus dropped heavy hints about the kind of death he would have to die – unjust and marred by lies and terrible cruelty. Still, on the very night that one of his own followers was about to betray him to the religious leaders in Jerusalem, his friends seemed to have no real sense of what was coming.
* But Jesus did. Throughout the celebration of the Passover meal that night (commemorating the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt), he hinted that he was about to become the ultimate sacrifice required to free humanity from their slavery to wrongdoing.
* After the meal, Jesus led his friends to a garden and asked them to pray with him. He became increasingly distraught, begging to be spared the agony that lay before him, but ultimately choosing to give himself over to what was needed.
* Soon after, soldiers arrived, led there by one of his own friends, and he was arrested. Within a few hours beatings, a mock trial, scourging, and a death sentence followed, culminating in the crucifixion – arguably the most horrendous form of death ever dreamt up by human beings.
* Why did he choose this? So that you and I could have the option of choosing him. Bearing this in mind, we invite you to view the reflection that Claire and Nick have prepared for us on the meaning for you and me that lies behind the events of Good Friday.
This is a large video file, so if it doesn't show on your screen please copy and paste this link into your browser or search for “Hayling Baptist Good Friday” on YouTube:
If you struggle to open that video, or feel you need an added moment to reflect after viewing it, you may find this beautiful song that my aunt sent me this morning helpful, especially if you are feeling alone at this time:
God not only remembers each one of us, but has known us since before time came into existence - and he has plans for us to be together with him long after time will end.
Before I go, can I leave you with one suggestion? See if you can watch the film, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" before you join us for our Easter service on Sunday morning at 10am. It's an adventure that tells the story of Easter through the eyes of four children who stumble into the magical land of Narnia and get caught up in one incredible adventure that culminates in what we'll be celebrating on Sunday.