A person who does not believe that Jesus was actually raised from among the dead and is therefore Christ indeed is a person of poor judgment, unqualified to teach the New Testament, for such a person must invariably miss the entire point of that witness, which is that Jesus, by means of Resurrection, is proclaimed by Jehovah Himself to be the Messiah/Christ, the Anointed Son of the only true and living God. Je-sus is Jehovah in the flesh, for our salvation! He is, in other words, Lord, Master of all, true Master of the universe (Acts 2:34-36). Come to him all ends of the earth and be saved from the indignation to come! Now is the era of salvation, do not delay! “Kiss the Son, lest he become angry and you perish in the street! For his anger is quickly kindled” (Ps. 2:12). [1/31/96]
What’s good about “Good” Friday? I submit we might better call it Bad Friday, or even Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Friday (with apologies to Judith Vjorst!). For unless we get clear that that was the most evil day in the history of mankind, we are not properly prepared for “Good Sunday”!–the best day in the history of the ages theretofore. For Heaven’s sake shouldn’t we get the difference between good and evil straight so we can derive proper consolation from “Passion Week”? Oh, and there’s another curious label. What’s passionate about “Passion” Week? Okay, here, anyway, the title seems to fit. For it was because of God’s passionate love for us that He sent His only-born Son to suffer (a meaning of the Latin root, passio) and to get crucified for our sakes and for our salvation on that Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Friday. Yet not even salvation happened that Friday.
If you’ve ever had a bad day, then you should be able to derive comfort from “Bad Friday,” because that was for Jesus a bad day. Even so, the eschatology (doctrine of the “last things” or the prophesied future according to Scripture) of Bad Friday is that, as Tony Campolo emphasizes, “Sunday’s comin’!” The author of the Book of Hebrews declares, “For the joy…” of “Good Friday…”? Not! But for the joy “lying before him endures a cross, despising the shame” of that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad Day. The Devil made sure it was a very bad day for the Son of God, the King of Israel. In an important sense, even the Lord Jesus did not overcome the Devil that Friday. He died in waiting, in expectation. In accord with the desire of his Father, Jesus committed his existence to the “faithful Creator, in the doing of good“ (1 Pet. 4:19). [2/02/96]
Virtually the only good in Jesus’ bad day was his own obedience to his Father in the face of cruel and certain death. On the up side, it is exclusively because of what Jesus experienced then that we can be confident that that’s “the Light of the world” at the end of the tunnel, not the headlight of an oncoming train.
The singular good on that Bad Friday was in the heart of the Savior. But that leads to a next question: When was Jesus saved? When was the Savior saved? Does that sound like a strange question? Yet it would have been perfectly clear to the Jews of Jesus’ day, and his followers would soon know the answer to it. For he was not saved by the Cross, he was mutilated, put out of joint, and killed by that instrument. But remember this: The Savior was saved on Sunday! That “Good Sunday” reversed totally—and some!—the ill fortunes of “Bad Friday.”
From the popular designation of the day of Christ’s crucifixion, one might almost expect an eighth declaration of Christ from the Cross: “Thank God it’s Friday!” But his lips were sealed. The secret of the gospel Proclamation was the impending Resurrection! Paul writes that if the chief persons who crucified him had known of this wisdom of God, they would not ever crucify the Lord of glory. For that was their nemesis. They dared to declare guilty whom God had begotten and who kept innocent by the integrity of His agelong Spirit. They had, in effect, declared war on God Himself. Therefore, as Martin Luther phrased it, “their doom is sure.”
However, even that fate awaited them only if they still remained stubborn to the Son after his Father acquitted him by the intra-historic deed of Resurrection. For although he could have destroyed even his Roman executioners then and there, leaving only grease spots to show for their miserable existences, Jesus mercifully prayed for their pardon! For they were clueless what they were doing. But after his Resurrection it was a different story altogether. He showed himself alive to hundreds of witnesses, and especially to his humbled, chosen Apostles (Commissioners) to whom the high and mighty would now have to offer deference by giving credence to the astonishing but indisputable Truth to which they gave authoritative testimony: their Victim was alive! and well! No zombie. The One they lynched was now back…to show them mercy! How humiliating! Oh the shame of it! Few of them could bear to admit the mortifying Truth: this Jesus was indeed, after all we did to him, our much anticipated Messiah, God’s Anointed Son, Jehovah (in the flesh!), the Lord of all! Oh my. No innocent faux pas, this! Of course, someone had to do the job. The Almighty, by this expedient, allowed the culpable premeditators and the clueless, alike, to spill “the blood of His Own” (Acts 20:28) so that all who bow the knee to Jesus, irrespective of earthly pedigree, would be equally eligible to get cleansed, sanctified, justified, and conciliated to God. [2/07/96]
Amazingly, it appears from the New Testament witness that the Son of God, by his own wealth and inheritance from the Father, indemnified the at-risk creation so that the disruption/downfall into sin could not destroy it. This seems to be at the heart of an agelong covenant (alluded to in Jn. 17, Eph. 1, many sermons in Acts, etc.) made between the Father and the Son providently preceding that cosmic disruption, for our safety! Christ Jesus insured us against our ultimate loss. Accordingly, all who are shielded by him are secure. [2/11/96]
Moreover, God could not simply redeem the creation entirely aside from the death/Resurrection of Christ. That is because God is related to His creation by Covenant, and not arbitrarily, despotically. His intention is by a covenantal relation of love and faithful troth to woo each of us into a similar mature likeness. Such a goal cannot be reached by despotic force. His condescension to our weaknesses–His gentleness–exalts us (Ps. 18:35; 2 Sam. 22:36).
The apostle Paul declared, “I am aware what it is to be humbled as well as…to be superabounding” (Phil. 4:12); he had reconciled himself to this Biblical, creational pattern. So also the James who was the half-brother of Jesus, and who authored the book of that name, said, “Let the humble brother be boasting in his exaltation, yet the rich in his humiliation” (Jas. 1:9). Peter knew this pattern by heart; he had lived it, excruciatingly. John the Baptist announced, “He must be growing, yet mine it is to be inferior” (Jn. 3:30).
Finally, and happily, God doesn’t need “a bit of body” in order to raise you from the dead, either. Naturally, He knows your genetic code, but it would take incomparably more than that kind of information to clone you with all your remembered historic experiences intact, as well. God has you memorized. He has lovingly committed you to memory. [2/11/96; 2/15/96]