Good Friday : The Day Death Died

Good FridayToday, the Christian community celebrates Good Friday. The Friday before Easter Sunday is the day that the Christian faith stops to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. What makes it so “good”? It is the day that death died.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “But God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8. Paul’s words in verse eight sound so simple, “Christ died for us”. This verse is pregnant with truth, love, and forgiveness. It is not until we understand the manner in which Christ died that we can even begin to appreciate what He did for us. For six hours that Friday, Christ’s body hung on the cross bleeding with nails in His hands and feet. His blood spilled that we might be saved.

I don’t believe anyone would consider Roman crucifixion to be “good”.  At the time of Christ’s death, crucifixion was considered to be the most brutal and painful manners in which a person could die. The Roman soldiers were good at death; they ate it, they breathed it, they slept it; they even seemed to enjoy it. They seemed to think nothing of it. On one hand, the Jewish religious leaders claimed to be the spokesmen for God and knew what it took to please Him. They were “good” people. On the other hand, they hated Jesus because He spoke of God and for God. The leaders missed the fact that the Son of God was with them; He talked with them, He walked with them, He brought to light their sinfulness. If anyone should have known Jesus was the Messiah, it was them. The actions of both groups seem unimaginable.

What happened to Jesus was not “good”. However, a great good came out of it. Left alone and to ourselves, we are lost. Left alone and to ourselves there is a relationship that is broken. Left alone and to ourselves, there is a purpose in life we will never recognize. On the Friday Jesus died, the way for the sinner to know forgiveness and redemption was made straight; straight from the veins of Christ to the very throne of God. In our lost state, God still loved us. Paul said it so right back in verse eight, “God demonstrated His love toward us”. The good that happened on Friday was salvation, a rescue.

Jesus left us a command to remember Him. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is for such a remembrance. We take to time remember His broken body and His shed blood. Isn’t it sad that we need to be reminded to remember the One who gave His life for us? The actions of that Friday were certainly not “good”. However, the results of that day are priceless. As a wise pastor once said, “It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming.”

Book Review : Killing Jesus

killingjesusThis week is what is known as Passion Week within the Christian community. This week represents Jesus’ last week on earth. Within these seven days we see Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on what we know as Palm Sunday. We see Jesus observing the Passover meal with His disciples and the inauguration of the Lord’s Supper. We see His passionate and burdened prayer to His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. We see His betrayal by one of His own and His subsequent arrest. We also see His mock trials before the Jewish High Priest Caiaphas and the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate. Within this week we also see His scourging, crucifixion, death, burial, and resurrection. Questions surround Passion Week. Questions such as “Who was responsible for Jesus’ death?”, “Why did Jesus have to die?”, “What part did Rome play?”, and many others like these are asked, some deep within ourselves. In his new book, “Killing Jesus; The Unknown Conspiracy Behind the World’s Most Famous Execution”, New York Times Best Selling Author Stephen Mansfield has written a monumental work that sets the stage for the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Mansfield’s approach to this book is unlike any I have ever seen in this subject. In his introduction he writes, “The execution of Jesus was a crime born of the streets, the barracks, the enclaves of the privileged, and the smoke-filled back rooms of religious and political power brokers.” This simple sentence will be fully developed as the book unfolds and the reality of Mansfield’s conspiracy comes to light. He writes as if he is putting onto paper what the characters and onlookers might have been thinking. His brilliant symmetry of four different languages, three different calendaring systems, and lesser known historical accounts make this book work, and work well. In his twenty-one chapters, Mansfield introduces the players in the conspiracy, the cultural contexts and nuances, and the motives behind the conspiracy to put to death the Son of God.

Killing Jesus is an all-out assault on the senses. Mansfield employs a writing style that mimics that of a painter. He enables the reader to feel as if they are part of the crowds at the arrest, the trials, and the crucifixion. His style of writing lets the reader taste the disgust that the High Priest had for Jesus and see the disappointment in Jesus’ face at the betrayal. The reader can hear the bleating of thousands of lambs being slaughtered on Good Friday and the smell the blood that was subsequently shed. He writes, “Then, in that otherworldly voice that has come from him just moments before, he shouts, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’. It is more than a shout. It is a scream, really. And since it is three in the afternoon on the Day of Preparation, his scream blends with the screaming of the lambs. And he is gone.” This book is more felt than read. Mansfield has a winner here. This book is powerful, convicting, sobering. I would dare say it is a must read for all who wish to better understand Jesus’ Passion.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Worthy Publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”