Because life is a series of edits

God’s Friday, part 3

In Church on April 7, 2007 at 2:00 am

What about the part about Jesus praying to “the one who could save him from death?” The biblical gospels and secular historians like Josephus and Tacitus all record that Jesus died on the cross, so is this a mistake? What “death” is Hebrews referring to that God saved him from? The answer, of course, is that God saved him from eternal death, the same kind of death he saves us from because Jesus died on the cross. That’s what we’ll celebrate on Easter – God the Father’s resurrection of Jesus the son.

Which brings me back to the point that Good Friday is Good Friday because Good Friday was God’s Friday. It didn’t belong to the Pharisees, or to Judas, or to Peter or to the other disciples. It didn’t belong to Satan. It didn’t even belong to Jesus who, in his humanity, asked for special consideration as to whether there was another way to satisfy God’s wrath because of man’s sin.

No, Jesus surrendered his agenda to the Father in order to free us who are captive to our agendas, so that we might be free to surrender our agendas to the Father. Jesus died on the cross to deal with the sin in our opportunist hearts – and not just our sins of power and scheming and manipulation and dishonesty, but all that accompanies our sins – guilt and shame and sorrow and hurt as well – so we can experience the same love of the Father that Jesus always has.

Good Friday is not about being good. Maundy Thursday is not about being good. Holy Week is not about being good. Lent is not about being good. Life is not about being good – and that’s good, because none of us can be good enough. Life is about being surrendered to God and what he says is true about us (that we all like sheep have gone astray; that each of us has turned to our own way; that all of us have fallen short of his glory), and to embrace the love God still has for us despite what he says is true about us.

But this call to surrender is difficult. For those of you who may not believe in God, you need to surrender what it is – your pride, your will – keeping you from the reality that you are so desperate for peace. Those impure motives you can’t confess; those painful experiences you don’t know what to do with; the unquenchable desire you have for love – real love – these will not go away until you surrender yourself to God to be forgiven and accepted – even in your brokenness – because Jesus was broken for you.

For those (like me) who claim to know God and his love (though mostly on our own terms), we need to surrender our preoccupations with being good – our reputations, our behaviors, our “better than thou” mentalities – and come to trust the fact that we’re surrendered enough because Jesus surrendered for us. When we don’t read our Bibles every morning, when we forget to pray, when we choose – yes, choose – to sin, is Jesus’ surrender on the cross enough for us? It was enough for God; who are we that it’s not enough for us? When will we stop praying, “Oh, Lord, beat me so I’ll feel better,” and start trusting that we who are in Christ can never be more or less righteous in God’s eyes than we are right now? On my worst day, folks, I am still “Christ in Craig Dunham.”

Who wouldn’t want this kind of assurance? Who wouldn’t want this kind of peace? Who wouldn’t want this kind of grace? We’re all opportunists at heart, right? The difference is, this is not an opportunity we take but an opportunity we surrender to.

As you go home this evening, and even come back to celebrate the resurrection of Christ on Sunday, let us leave tonight, yes, sorrowing over our sin and our tendencies – like the Pharisees, like Judas, like Peter, like the disciples – to be opportunists with agendas. But let us not leave hopelessly. Jesus surrendered his will to God and went through that agony for us. And God saved him from eternal death, which is the same salvation he offers each of us by way of Jesus’ surrender and sacrifice.

What’s good about Good Friday? Good Friday is Good Friday, because Good Friday was God’s Friday. As we consider this reality, may we surrender to it as well.


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