Friday, April 14, 2017
Practical Suggestions for Commemorating Good Friday
Jesus probably didn't sleep at all the night before Good Friday.
He went anguished and betrayed and whipped and mocked and exhausted into the most momentous day of human history. The day that only a God-Man could have accomplished. The day where the hands of the God-Father pressed the weight of history's sin--my sin--onto the shoulders of the God-Son.
If I were going into a day like that, I would have been like the disciples, sleeping all I could to get ready for it. I would have been so wrong.
Jesus prayed before his anguish. Praying in distress of soul, that he would be ready for the will of God.
Psalm 31:7 says, "you have known the distress of my soul". (ESV) I wonder what it was like, for the Father to know the distress of the Son who had done no wrong, and yet was to become an object of cursing and scorn in just a few hours. It's staggering, the distress that the Trinity must have been in that day. The three-fold relationship, in existence an eternity before the world began, was broken.
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
There is no earthly betrayal, no lost friend, no estranged parent or wayward child, that can equal the anguish of that separation. The awe of it weighs upon us. It is so terribly beyond our comprehension, unbearable to contemplate for long--but God, who is without limits, would have comprehended all of it.
It's easy to lose sight of Good Friday. This is the Friday that changed the whole scope of mankind, and yet it's so easy to forget it in anxiety and anger, that leftover fight, those school assignments clamoring to be done, the late shift at work tonight, the baby who won't stop crying.
I'm writing a chapter I've been wrestling with. And oh, yes, I could easily lose sight of Good Friday for the sake of wrestling that chapter into submission to meet my own deadline.
Sometimes I start a day like this with the best of intentions, only to lose sight of remembering as the day goes on. Then I remember a day like this doesn't need--especially doesn't need my works to complete it. It is just as complete without anything that any man can add to it. But Christ does call us to remember. I don't think this is the kind of sacrifice that it's OK to pass lightly over year after year after year.
Commemorating Good Friday is what we need. The unforgivable and unforgiving, the scared, the lost, the indifferent and the joyful--they all find their center at the cross. The Jew and the Gentile, the man and the woman, the parent and child, husband and wife, friend and friend, pastor and congregation, God and man--they all find their center, their reconciliation--at the cross.
We gain perspective of the sins we are not repentant of, and the sins we fear God cannot forgive, when we realize the enormity of what those sins did to God's Son, and the enormity of mercy that flowed down that day.
God so loved the world
that he gave
Maybe, like me, you have things that can't be laid aside today. Maybe you have a job you can't just call off, or a child to take care of, or another obligation. That's OK. I'm going to try to commemorate this way, and I hope it will encourage you to do so as well.
1. Read Scripture
Pick a couple of times throughout the day--the mid-morning break, the lunch break, the dinner break--the first bit of time after you get home from work, the last bit of time before you go to sleep--and read a passage of Scripture. Read it slowly. Slower. Slower than that. Linger and savor over the words. Read phrases over again. Think about how they mean something--what Jesus experienced, and how his sacrifice has changed your life right now.
Here are some passages to consider reading:
2. Listen to Songs of Remembrance
Songs are even easier--on the work commute, while exercising, while making supper or cleaning the house--to turn our thoughts to Jesus and contemplate his sacrifice for us. Here are some I'm going to be using:
In Christ Alone
How Deep the Father's Love for Us
And Can it Be?
What Wondrous Love is This
O Love that Wilt Not Let Me Go
Jesus, Thank You (Sovereign Grace Music)
He Will Hold Me Fast
I hope these are inspiring or possibly helpful as we remember the wondrous, world-altering sacrifice of Jesus Christ. If you have songs and Scripture passages to add in the comments, I would love to hear them.