Friday, April 22, 2011

No Greater Love: A Good Friday Meditation

For those who don't follow the Christian calendar, today is Good Friday--the day we celebrate the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross. I think Good Friday can get swept under the rug of unconsciousness, what with Easter coming up in two days. But this is undeserved. Yes, Easter is about Jesus' supreme triumph over death, which is awesome and gives us hope for a future with no weakness, no sickness, no decay, and no suffering. But something equally essential took place on the first Good Friday. The huge gap between man and God that we'd carved out with our sins, which previously was impassable, was bridged. Our iniquities that had separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2) were canceled, paid in full. God's righteous fury against our sins, which should have resulted in our destruction, was taken out on His own perfect Son instead. Anyone could come before God now, justified and clean. As if to demonstrate this, the Bible says that the curtain in the temple of Jerusalem, which separated the Most Holy Place where God was believed to dwell from the rest of the temple, was torn in half when Jesus died. The message was no doubt clear to the Jews: God no longer resided in one particular place, and He no longer had to be sought and petitioned by trained priests and holy rituals. Now anyone could come before God.

But there is more significance to Christ's death on the cross. It is held up by John as the supreme example of what love is: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us." (1 John 3:16) Later he writes, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His song as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (4:10) Christ on the cross is the perfect example of God's perfect, relentless, costly love. Compare it with  the kind words of a Hallmark greeting card, or the depravity and selfishness passed off as "love" in the media. God didn't just say He loved us, He showed it off by giving up His own Son to give us the greatest gift in history. Just as He didn't spare His Son, He calls us to love Him with our whole selves, holding nothing back. This is the God who created all things, the God that Christians serve, and the God who wants everyone in the world to know and be known by Him.

Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

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