April 3, 2015

Dear Liberty,

“Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Zechariah 9:9

     Last Sunday we remembered our Lord and Savior entering Jerusalem under praises and songs of “Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  By the week’s end that same man would be hanging on a cross, dying an innocent death.

     It should have come as no shock to anyone when we search the Old Testament.  The Lord’s birth and death were plainly told for generations.

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

     When the angels appeared to the shepherds and told them to go find the Christ child, they said, “And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  (see The Reason For The Season)  This was more than just a sign of his birth.  It was a prediction of his death.

     To swaddle a baby, strips of cloth were used to tightly wrap the newborn, keeping it warm and secure.  Strips of cloth were also used to wrap a body after its death in preparation for burial.    For the angels to specifically point out that the Christ would be in swaddling clothes, it was a sign to us that He was born to die for our sins.

     On the Friday after entering Jerusalem, Jesus would fulfill all the words prophesied about Him.  Accepting that it was God’s Will, He endured the punishment for the world’s sins and silently suffered the beatings we were told He would.

“I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6

     Then he withstood the pain and suffering of having his hands and feet nailed to the cross and the humiliation of a public and disgraceful death.

“Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Psalm 22:16-18

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isaiah 53:3-7

     This is a horrible, gruesome way to die.  So why, Liberty, do we celebrate it?  Because this is by far not the end of the story.  At the moment of Christ’s death, He conquered Satan.  (see The Serpent And The Tree)  As Christ said, “It is finished.”  All the suffering and all the punishment that is rightfully ours because of our sins, Jesus took upon himself and bore for us.  He was innocent.  He was sinless, yet he lovingly allowed himself to be our substitute.  This is not only a good Friday, this is the best Friday ever.

     His victory, or should I say our victory, was made known to all when his burial clothes were found folded neatly in the empty tomb on Sunday morning.  This is significant as well because if he had been stolen as many want to believe, the thieves would not have had the time to unwrap Jesus, let alone stop and fold the strips of cloth.

     So, Liberty, this is a very, very Good Friday as our relationship with God was restored and renewed through the blood of His Son.  As the temple curtain ripped at the moment of Jesus’ death, the barriers between God and humanity were torn down with Christ becoming our mediator.    We are now free from the power of sin, liberated from the power of death and the power of the devil.

     Many want to forget and ignore Good Friday.  They don’t go to church or even acknowledge the day.  But to truly understand the amazing importance of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday, you much recognize and appreciate His death on Good Friday.

     That’s my 2 cents.



Stamp photo: “man of the day” by Jess.  Used under the terms of the Flickr Attribution