Read more only if you dare…this is a Friday we can thank God for it being what it is…and what it was.
Upon engagement to my wife, she gave me a gift of a beautiful gold bracelet. Jewelry had never really been important to me, though that bracelet quickly became a favorite. Shortly after we were married, I remember making a comment about not owning any other jewelry beyond my wedding band, and a signet ring on my right hand. For Christmas that year I received the most precious gift of my life. It was a necklace. The pendant was not a talisman, or a good luck charm, it was a small spike about two inches long. It was a reminder. On it; the words “Isaiah 53:5” were engraved on two sides. I never take it off. I can never forget.
It is Good Friday and 9:02AM as I write this. I wonder if the hammering had stopped by now. Over two thousand years have passed since Christ…was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. [Isaiah 53:5]
And He walked right into it. He had choices. He was tempted one last time to turn away, but He found strength in His God, embraced His Father’s will instead of His own. And yet, He was not a servant to God; He was God, is God, and He was a servant to us. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. [Isaiah 53:2-3]
And here we are on a Friday morning a couple millennia beyond His death, and as a nation, we see backs turn from Him again. His presence is being stripped from our lives just as surely as He was taken from those who stood by and watched spikes pounded into his wrists and feet so long ago. Backs turn as the Ten Commandments are stripped out of our courthouses. “In God We Trust” is at risk on our currency. Backs turn as officials at a Massachusetts Elementary school teach their children new lyrics to Lee Greenwood’s “God Loves the USA” – dropping “God” in favor of “’WE’ love the USA” for a school concert. What? He is being taken from us again and again even as we stand in the crowd and watch the hammer fall.
How easy it is to look the other way. Who among us spends any time at the courthouse? Why should I give a rip? My kids are no longer in elementary school. Truly, why should I care? How easy it is not to care. How easy to satisfy the need to “do something” by acting indignant when we hear of these things on the evening news. How easy to remain strong within ourselves; insulated from the atrocities that seek to strip Him from our lives by those in authority. What is faith without action?
Yeah, now that’s a convicting question. Want more? Just read the Book of James. It is short – to the point – and very convicting. That book of the bible changed my life. I care. I care about my kids who have kids and elementary school yet to go. I care about our teens who do not know Christ. I care about Young Life. I care about these things because He cared enough about me to die for me. Seems to me that caring about Him is the least I can do, and I care enough to act.
Christ did not fight back. He did not defend himself. He kept quiet and displayed what was seen as a constant weakness. Yet it was our weakness he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! [Isaiah 53:4] How could so many have been so wrong?
How many more reminders will we get?
I doubt the sun will darken around noon today as it did then. I doubt the earth will shake and the curtain separating the people from God in the Temple rips down the middle again as it did then. At 3PM when His suffering finally ended, what will remind us of that moment on this Friday that our sins died with Him? I wonder where I will be and what things of this world will be distracting me at that moment. I wonder if I will remember. I wonder how many do not even know. I wonder, and I care, so I write. I write so He can shine through the words. It is about Him and what He did for me…for you…for all of us.
It is easy to forget. Life these days is busy. After all, this all went down over two thousand years ago. The sharp edge of those memories that pains our hearts has been blunted by time. Who of us could ever re-live that shocking emptiness that must had filled the hearts of those who were His followers back then? What a horrible sense of loss that must have been. But that was then and this is now. There will be no shock factor disrupting our weekend festivities; our Easter egg hunts and chocolate bunnies. Why spoil a holiday remembering that He suffered for the better part of an entire day before dying for us?
Will we turn away and allow that memory to be taken from us too? We all have the free will to choose to remember, or we can turn away. I turn. I am so broken I turn every day; the world and the enemy welcome my turning. Turning away is the best way, the easiest way to fit in with this world. But then, every day, at some point, I touch that spike around my neck, and the turning stops, and I remember a decision, and I know Who owns my heart. Methinks the time has come to stop turning away. It is time to choose which way you will turn, because turn you will. Welcome Christ into your heart and turn your life over to Him on this Good Friday, and remember that He did not turn away from you…from me…from any of us.
Join me in thanking God that today is Good Friday, and through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of His Son…for us…that we have something to turn toward – something to remember.