(All quotes are from the Evangelical Heritage Version of the Bible)
Good Friday. What a terrible scene. I can look at those people who were there and wonder why they didn’t do more to help Jesus. I can only shake my head at those who shouted insults at my Savior and wonder why they treated him that way.
And yet, was I there too?
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. How often I make choices that show I am taking my own path in life. I know that I am living on the edge and yet I still go rushing into situations for which I later need to repent. And then I can actually feel sorry for myself.
Jesus said to him, “Amen I tell you: Today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:43. I know Jesus’ death on the cross paid for all of my sins. I know only he could do for me what I cannot do for myself–put myself right with God. And yet I still find myself comparing my own life with others and actually thinking, “See God what I am doing for you?” Sometimes I think that God has to take note of all I do and count it to my positive side.
“Woman, here is your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother!” John 19:26-27. I really love my parents. I know, there were times growing up when I didn’t listen to them. But my generation was different from theirs‘. Now I visit them every week and I know they appreciate it. At times though, thoughts creep in about wanting them to move out of their home into a place that would be better for them. Actually, it would be easier for me.
“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46. I feel all alone sometimes. It seems that God is nowhere to be found. But in my case, I have walked away from him through my own sinful choices. I know he is still there, but I avoid confessing my sin to him and others. He has not abandoned me, I am holding him away.
“I thirst.” John 19:28. I can understand his thirst and what he said. He was fulfilling the prophecies in Psalm 69:21 and 22:15. I sometimes thirst, too–but for the wrong things. I want comfort and security. I want to have a life empty of conflict and difficult decisions. Jesus’ thirst served a purpose for everyone. The goal of my thirst is only to serve myself.
“It is finished!” John 19:30. Jesus, despite the belief of those who put him to death, was always in control. To declare something is finished is making a decision. “I am done with what I came to do.” Too often I fail to finish much. I start with the good intention of serving my Lord, but then it gets difficult and I stop. I put off things that I consider too difficult or because others may think less of me and my plans.
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Luke 23:46. I read that these words come from Psalm 31:5 and were used by Jewish people as a bedtime prayer. Jesus was here going into death with complete trust that his Father was going to care for him, Some days my trust goes only as far as I can figure things out. I trust that God will take care of all things. But it can be a fearful trust. As I write this my head hangs a little lower. That is not trust in the God who killed his only Son for me.
Oh, my precious Savior. I was there on Good Friday. My sins caused the pain you felt as you were beaten and whipped. My failure to put you first in all things drove the nails into your hands and feet with every blow of the hammer. My selfish ego powered the insults heaped upon you. I know you died for those sins and more. And yet, the sins continue. As a result you were forsaken by even your own Father. I am so, so sorry.
You could have gotten off that cross especially as you looked ahead to 2018 and see how I continue to sin everyday. I just do not learn. But you stayed on the cross and took the punishment for all the sins of all the people who have ever and will ever live.
That is a love I cannot understand but love the world cannot deny. Help me, Jesus. Fill my heart with the same love you have for me. Compel me to live like you did because of all you did for me. When I fall, help me to repent of that sin and come to you for forgiveness.
And finally, open my eyes to all those who need to know you and give me the courage to share with them what you did on Good Friday. Thank you, Jesus for all you did and continue to do in my life. I am ashamed I caused your suffering. I am humbled you made me your child through faith. I love you. Amen.
Good Friday is followed closely by Easter. I hope you come back to hear “the rest of the story.” I will wait you.