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Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday and It's Crucial Significance

Today is Good Friday.  I cannot over-emphasize the crucial significance and importance of this day.  It is perhaps the key to understanding the Christian faith, and its truths are central to Christianity as a whole.

It was on this day that Christ was crucified.  This was the method of execution in the Roman Empire.  Christ had been sentenced to death by Pontius Pilate, the Roman local governor.  Pilate felt pressured by an angry mob standing outside that demanded Christ's death.  Although Pilate had stated, 'I find no fault in Him,' he nonetheless bowed to the pressure of the loud mob and sentenced Christ to be scourged (beaten), and then crucified on a Cross.

Large spike nails were driven into His hands and feet.  The sheer weight of a human body hanging by nothing but nails caused those nails to rip through the flesh each time the victim took a breath.  It was a slow, agonizing death.

I have often described the crucifixion of Christ as the greatest love story ever told.  The Jews believed that man's sins required a sacrifice.  In older Jewish manuscripts, the prophecy foretold of a Man who would become that one sacrifice, once and for all, for all humanity.  Christ offered Himself voluntarily as that sacrifice.  No one 'took' his life from Him.  He laid it down of His own free will, dying for the sins of the world, taking our rightful punishment for our rebelliousness, and purchasing with His own blood an eternal home in Heaven, although none of us are deserving of it.

Whether or not you believe in the ancient Jewish belief in the necessity for a sacrifice is not the point.  The mere fact that Jesus laid down his life--an innocent man dying for the guilty--is the love story of all love stories.  And without the Cross, one cannot begin to grasp the depth and breadth of the love of God for fallen humanity.  The Cross says it all in most poignant terms.

Prayer--"Our Heavenly Father, our hearts grow humble as we ponder the death of our Lord on the Cross.  Such love overwhelms us.  We are truly thankful that in spite of our sin, You gave us your Only Begotten Son to die for us so that we might live.  Thank-you for the Cross.  Thank-you for the broken body and shed blood of our precious Lord.  And thank-you for the salvation we find in knowing Him and in believing that His sacrificial death on the Cross bought us a free and full pardon for ALL of our sins, failures, and shortcomings.  In Your Great Name we pray, Amen."

Song--Our song for today is a classic dating back to the late 60s.  Jim Hill, who wrote this song, is singing the lead in the video, and at the time he was singing tenor for the famed J.D. Sumner and the Stamps Quartet--one of the greatest gospel quartets in history.  J.D. at one time was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the lowest bass singer in the world.  This song is a special blessing for Good Friday, and it is entitled, For God So Loved.  Whatever you do, don't miss it.

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