Practically Speaking

More Than A Holiday

Christmas is big. Most everything stops when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. But for me, the remembrance and celebration of Good Friday and Easter hands down affects me more than any other holiday. Why? Because it’s the pinnacle of the Christ’s purpose on earth.

woodencross

As I went to a small church service tonight with my family in honor of Good Friday, held in the backyard of a member’s home, about 50 of us recited the word of God, remembering what today represents. Our Sin. A Cross. A Perfect and Holy Sacrifice. His Death. God’s Forgiveness.

I’m a crier. I mean, I ALWAYS cry in church. My kids aren’t ever used to it, always wondering what it is this time that triggered it, but they’re never surprised. My friends who see me regularly expect it and just know there’s nothing wrong, it’s just my heart. I’m always overwhelmed by God’s grace, His mercy and His love for me. I love singing worship songs and hymns. They fill my heart with gratitude, humble my heart over my own wretchedness and bring me joy that lifts my spirit giving me hope for all things. Sermons can captivate me, break me, get in my head and make me think, make me want to be more righteous, more holy, more like Christ. And I’m never ashamed to let everyone see the tears flow from my eyes.

Tonight was no exception. I wept. As we read through the gospel of Mark chapter 15, verses 1-39, I couldn’t help but imagine being there, with Jesus. I hope you’ll read the scripture below in it’s entirety. Don’t skim over it. Read each and every word.  Picture yourself being there. Imagine seeing and feeling what Jesus did. And while you’re doing that, remember it was all for you.

Jesus’ words are in red.

Jesus Before Pilate

15 Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, made their plans. So they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.

“Are you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

The chief priests accused him of many things. So again Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer? See how many things they are accusing you of.”

But Jesus still made no reply, and Pilate was amazed.

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising.The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did.

“Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead.

12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them.

13 “Crucify him!” they shouted.

14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

16 The soldiers led Jesus away into the palace (that is, the Praetorium) and called together the whole company of soldiers. 17 They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way in from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross. 22 They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 23 Then they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.

25 It was nine in the morning when they crucified him. 26 The written notice of the charge against him read: the king of the jews.

27 They crucified two rebels with him, one on his right and one on his left. [28] [a] 29 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 come down from the cross and save yourself!” 31 In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus

33 At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. 34 And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[b]

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, “Listen, he’s calling Elijah.”

36 Someone ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down,” he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”

There is a sermon I listen to every year by C.J Mahaney. I don’t know that I could bare listening to it more than that because it is so powerful. It is a rich description of Jesus’s last hours in Gethsemane as he drank from the cup of our sin. You won’t regret taking an hour of your life listening to it here.

Jesus died for you and for me. He died to save us from God’s wrath over our sin. Our sin separates us from God because He is holy and we are not. How do you know if you’re a sinner? God gave Moses the 10 commandments, the law by which we will all be judged. God’s standard of goodness is different from our own standard of goodness, which varies from person to person. The bible says that if you break one of these laws it’s as if you’ve broken all of them. There isn’t one of us who has kept them. That qualifies us as a sinner.

I can’t help but reflect on the pain and suffering I put Jesus through. I put Him on that cross. My sin.

There is a hymn called, “How Deep The Father’s Love For Us.” Breath in these words.

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

This weekend represents life because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He paid the penalty for our sin by dying a grueling death. But  it doesn’t end there. Jesus rose from the grave and lives, seated at the mighty right hand of God. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

I hope you take this weekend to reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The only one who offers us salvation (saving us from our sin) to God. And if this is the first time you’re reading about it and want to know more, I encourage you to ask questions and seek out a bible teaching church and go to an Easter service this Sunday. Our eternal lives hinge on what happened this weekend, over 2000 years ago.

P.S. If you want to listen to this beautiful hymn, my favorite version is by Selah.