Good Friday Meditation – April 6, 2012

Posted: April 7, 2012 in Theology

The following is a journaling conversation I had with the Father in response to my prayer, “Lord, what do you want to say to me about the events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion?”

Matthew 27:27-31 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

Matthew 27:39-44 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

Do you see the way Jesus interacts with his killers? He gives himself away in order to rescue the very ones who resist him, spit on him, mock him, and belittle him. He loves them and lets them do their worst. And that’s how he strips the authority from the principalities and powers. The dark powers have absolutely no hold on anything in his heart. Jesus has no bitterness or hatred in regard to men, and nothing unsurrendered or held back in regard to His Father. Jesus truly said, “he has no hold/claim on me.”

John 14:30-31 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

The cross is the pinnacle of spiritual warfare. The devil’s ancient strategy is to stir up enmity. Satan’s first strategy in the garden was to bring enmity between Adam and Eve and God. His second strategy was to bring enmity between Cain and Abel. Enmity and hatred is his strategy. But God’s strategy of enmity was that the seed of Eve would crush the serpent’s head, even as that serpent struck his heel. And now, tonight, we see that ancient first preaching of the Gospel in Genesis 3:15, finally coming to pass. Jesus warred against these demonic powers with love.  Obviously, not love toward the evil spirits, but rather toward those whom the demons were using for their purposes. He laid down his life both for his friends, though the whole lot of them had just that night fled from him in his time of greatest need. AND, he was laying down his life for those mocking soldiers, jeering onlookers, and conniving Pharisees. Jesus refused to become a monster in order to defeat a monster.

FATHER:  “Too many of My children thank Me for the cross without following My Son in the cross life in the midst of conflict. In your hearts you mock, curse, and spit instead of bless, pray, and surrender to My providence.  You war against flesh and blood instead of warring, like your Master, against principalities and powers.”

This cross is not only for our forgiveness; it is also for our discipleship. It is to be the very shape of the Christian life. In practice, it looks like this:

Matthew 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

1 Corinthians 6:7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?

Romans 12:14-21 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Jesus didn’t waste a lot of time yelling at the devil. The biggest exorcism of all was wrought without words. It was wrought without arguments or legal defense, but rather by a demonstration of the glory of God. Namely, Jesus demonstrated the glory of God and worked the biggest defeat of the kingdom of evil in precisely this way: self-giving love toward those who opposed Him the most, and who deserved it the least. That’s how the whole universe was delivered from the grip of demonic oppression.

Colossians 1:20 and through [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

It is as though Jesus said to the enemy, “You may do your worst, but I will still do my Father’s will, and my Father will reward as He sees fit.” And here is how the Father saw fit: He exalted Jesus to the highest place. All authority in heaven and on earth was given Him. There is now no name higher in all creation. Jesus has been made King over every human king. Master over every human or angelic power. His most fierce enemy will now be felled “with the breath of his mouth and destroyed by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:8).” Lord of all.

That’s the Father’s exaltation. But Jesus’ side of the equation wasn’t to worry about the exaltation, but only the obedience. Jesus “opened not his mouth” for his own sake. He made no defense. He did not protect himself or attack his opponents. He knew that it was through death that He would preach the clearest message. The world would see Jesus’ ministry as beginning with a dramatic rise in popularity, then falling with controversy and ending with tragedy. Jesus knew that in fact, the opposite was true. This darkest hour held the very meaning of his whole life.

John 12:27-28 27“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.”

This same path, and nothing less, is the path for every follower of Jesus. The cross that each of us must bear is different. Unique to us. But to each of us, the price is always the death of self. Self must be given over to suffering love and the posture of a God-humbled servant. That’s the plan.

It has been said that Jesus already won the war, and that now all that is left is the mopup. And that has a lot of truth to it. But there is another New Testament truth. And that is what Paul said:

Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,

In light of the finished work of Christ, Paul now fills up what is still lacking in regards to Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His Body, the church. Our forgiveness has been completely paid; don’t get me wrong here. But there’s something of the cross that must be borne by us for the work to really be complete in us. Complete in us in terms of our fellowship with Christ. And there’s something of the work of the cross that must be completed by us in terms of the Gospel being rightly demonstrated to others. We say, “God loves you; Jesus died for you to bring you life!” And then we love them and die for them in order to bring them life. Proclamation, demonstration. The cross of Jesus for us initiates us into taking our cross as well. This is simply the way of the Lord. We follow him into death and resurrection, even as baptism visibly presents it. There is no other plan.

FATHER SAYS, “I have a zero tolerance policy on hatred in My household. That’s why I take the issue of forgiving one another so seriously. Unforgiveness is the path away from My grace. Blood atonement, not penance for yourself, not payback to others, is the way back. Blood atonement – not penance, not payback – is the way back to My grace, to fellowship, and to life. It’s never a matter of you or others paying for sins. It’s always a matter of blood. It’s about blood. They say that blood is thicker than water. That’s far more true in My household than in any earthly household. It is the realm of demons (not the realm of God) that is ruled by written codes, laws and legal requirements. My house, by contrast, is ruled by love. My law is love. The demonic realm acts as spiritual lawyers, prosecuting attorneys, who take delight in tempting and then accusing the sons of men. But I nailed their entire legal argument to the cross. I nailed that written code with its indictments to the cross in my Son’s body. I made My Son your Passover Lamb in your place. The question is this: Are you going to live in it, or not? Are you going to live in the grace of the cross? Or in the legal jurisdiction of the demonic realm?”

Colossians 2:13-15 13And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

“There is more love poured out here at the cross for you and more power available here for loving others than anyone can ever comprehend or know. If you even catch the tiniest glimpse of My love from a great distance, like a sunrise after a starless night, it will make everything new and different. Just as the sun gives light to the world, so My love gives life to the world. Just one taste of My love has inspired my ransomed ones in every generation to gladly give up everything they once held as dear to pursue Me instead. Just one taste.”

“Many call upon Me seeking divine help for some desperate situation or even for some small trouble that concerns them. But how many call upon Me seeking only My will? The difference between the two is in tasting and seeing. So taste. See. To see, you must look. Look at my Son, even now, walking up the hill to take the cross that you deserve. He’s coming up the path to Golgotha, and you stand in the crowds along the road. He is coming to you, and reaching out to you, he removes the weight of guilt and shame from your shoulders – an invisible burden. You never asked him to take it. He took it before you even knew to ask. He puts it on, and walking up the hill to be killed, he turns back, looks you right in the eyes and says, ‘Now…nothing can ever separate us.'”  Selah.

TIM: My heart replies with these words:

Song of Solomon 8:6-7 6 Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm, for love is strong as death, jealousy is fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD. 7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it. If a man offered for love all the wealth of his house, he would be utterly despised.

At any time Lord, you could’ve called down legions of angels to deliver You. But you were willingly bound. Willingly bound. In fact, you were more free on the cross than the ones on the ground who heaped insults upon you. The enemy had no hold on you. Your heart was held there by love. And it was love that spilled from you, body, soul, and spirit. “Father, forgive them! They know not what they do!” Yet you knew fully what you were doing. It was NOT my sin that held you there. It was love.

Oh to be free as the Son is free! O Savior, bring the freedom of Your heart to our hearts! Thank You that because of Your cross nothing can ever separate us!

Amen.

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Comments
  1. Joseph Miller says:

    I am moved to read this again and ponder, but it rings of truth to me. We have so much to learn from Him, and His ways of responding to those who despised Him.

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