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What’s So ‘good’ about Good Friday?

It’s because of a death. And… what’s so ‘good’ about a day dedicated to observing a death? In our culture, we don’t deal too well with death. We call it other things or dance around it through a plethora of self-preservation tactics propagated by pundits, entertainers, surgeons, and make-up artists. We don’t typically wear symbols of death: electric chairs, nooses, collapsing buildings, or tombstones. Then, what makes the Roman cross any different as a symbol of goodness? Good Friday is ‘good’ because of one Person’s (Jesus) actions towards another Person (God) on behalf of other persons (us).

1. Good Friday is ‘good’ because Jesus was good.

Jesus said, “I was born to testify to the truth (John 18:23).” In his life, Jesus succeeded in every part that we failed. By his Father’s approval at his baptism, his passing the wilderness test, his obedience to God’s law, Jesus proved to be the ultimate human worthy of carrying out a divine rescue plan.

2. Good Friday is ‘good’ because Jesus had to fulfill his Father’s plan.

There was only one plan conceived before the ages began that God would enact to deal with sin and reconcile his lost people to himself. God was rightfully angry, and that anger had to be satisfied. How does a God get satisfied? Isaiah 53 answers that: “Yet is was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin…” Jesus suffered his Father’s rejection so that we could be accepted.

3. Good Friday is ‘good’ because Jesus took the place that we rightfully deserved.

Indeed, we are precious creations of God, made in his image, but we’re each fundamentally and personally bent towards sin and corruption. There is no possible goodness in us that outweighs our bad and the debt we owe to God. We needed a substitute to make our way back to God, ‘the just for the unjust’ (1 Peter 3:18).

It’s ‘good’ —yea, great—because it is about the Gospel. And, if Good Friday is good because of the cross work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then, it’s good for any day of the week or year. Thank God for that Friday, and thank YOU for the cross!

Posted by Will Pareja with

Deathbed Calisthenics

We naturally wouldn’t link the rigor of calisthenics with the malaise of dying. Calisthenics has to do with movement and fitness. It is an exercise. The question upon all of us—old and young— is how are we preparing to die? Simon Goulart was a pastor during the Protestant Reformation in Geneva, Switzerland and a friend of John Calvin. In his Remedies Against Satan’s Temptations in our Final Hour,* Goulart exercised his congregation to die well by posing the following instructions:

1. Keep in mind the promises of the kingdom of God. They are “yes and Amen” in Jesus Christ, and they are for you. While the kingdom of God isn’t only about you, it does include you. Know the promises. Memorize them.
2. Battle continuously the temptations of Satan by means of the Word of God. That’s what Jesus did when he faced both the enticements of the devil and the prospect of death in humble submission to God’s Word.
3. Pray that God will not allow you to be tempted beyond your strength. “Lead us not into temptation.” We actually have the promise from God in 1 Cor 10:13 that God won’t do this, but pray it and tell him that you trust him according to his promises.
4. Contemplate with the eyes of your faith Jesus Christ, humiliated and exalted for your salvation. This isn’t merely re-imagining the events of Jesus’ last week all over again as if it were a superstition. It is the spiritual vision supernaturally given by the Holy Spirit to all who turn and trust.
5. Forgive those who have sinned against you. “As you have forgiven us.” Nothing like getting and staying ready to die like letting go of bitterness and conflict. This kind of love wins all the way into eternity.
6. Confess your faith and Christian hope. Your confession of faith in Jesus was not just a ‘one-and-done’ thing at conversion. This is active; as active as your feeble frame or frail tongue can muster the words. This bubbles and overflows within you like a fountain even when your body is falling apart.
7. Commend your soul to God. Like Jesus, Stephen and others, entrust your soul to God to the very end.

*Thanks to Dr. Scott Manetsch’s book Calvin’s Company of Pastors for pointing out Goulart.

Posted by Will Pareja with

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