Yesterday we celebrated Good Friday with a fellowship meal (and it was lovely to be able to chat together as we ate, eating together being one of the great ways to get to know people) and a service of reflection and remembrance. Sadly I was so busy that I didn’t get time to take any photos!
In our meeting, we looked at the three principles which in many respects defined Jesus’s life and were certainly evident in that last week on earth: servanthood, suffering and sacrifice.
Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. When His disciples were arguing about who was the greatest and who would sit at His right hand when He came to power, Jesus said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45) The Son of Man, the Son of God, the All-Powerful One, did not come to be served, but to serve. He left His home in glory to take on human flesh (Phil 2:6-7) and in that last week of His life took up the basin and towel to wash His disciples’ feet, an act of service He said we are to imitate. (John 13:1-15)
Suffering is also an inevitable part of life in a sin-stained world. He suffered the pain of rejection, of betrayal by a friend, of denial, of abandonment as well as the physical agonies of being beaten, spat upon, forced to carry the weight of the cross, bleeding from the crown of thorns rammed into His head. Even greater than the suffering of the physical agonies, however, was the suffering of being forsaken by His Father and bearing the weight of the sins of the world. We cannot ever suffer in the way that Jesus suffered, but it is through this suffering that we gain a High Priest who is able to enter into our suffering and therefore can find help in our own times of suffering and need. Hebrews 13:12 says, ‘Jesus also suffered outside the city gate to make the people holy through his own blood.’ The suffering that Jesus endured in the last week of His life, and the suffering especially which defined Good Friday, paves the way for our own salvation, redemption and sanctification.
Good Friday shows us Jesus dying on the cross, ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.’ (John 1:29) Sacrifice always involved death; . Peter tells us that we are redeemed ‘with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.’ (1 Pet 1:19) Christ Himself became the sacrifice; John tells us ‘He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.’ (1 John 2:2) The reason Jesus had to die, the reason we needed a sacrifice that was without blemish or defect, was because of the sin which separates us from God. Peter says that Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross, and the result of this is that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. (1 Pet 2:24) Now we can have a new life; we were like sheep going astray, but can now, through the death of this spotless Lamb, come back to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. (1 Pet 2:25) Jesus is both the sacrifice we needed and the Good Shepherd who will guide us through life.
Servanthood, suffering and sacrifice defined Good Friday. Because of these things, we are now reconciled to God and free to live as our Saviour did.