April 11, 2015

Why Easter Friday is good . . .

Deuteronomy 21:1–22:30; 2 Corinthians 5:11–21; Psalm 38:1–22

Good Friday is still fresh in my heart. The OT reading points to what happened that dark day: “And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 21:22–23)

Being hung on a tree was a sign of being cursed, cursed for sin and for crimes punishable by death. The NT says that the “wages of sin is death” and as a sinner I deserve that curse. But Christ was cursed for me. He was hung on a tree (the cross), and because of what He did, my debt is paid and I no longer live under a curse. That is why I call that horrid day a ‘good’ Friday.

As I work through this devotional book called Connect the Testaments, I cannot always see the connection, particularly  between the laws and my life today. I know that those laws have truths and principles behind them, even though not all of them are for today, for this era of grace. However, there is a simple and plain relationship between my actions and what Christ has done for me. I am free from the OT laws and the curse I deserve, but that freedom is meant to prompt me to live for Christ — not for myself. I am called to live as a free person should live, called to live for God’s kingdom and for His glory.

However, the NT reading for today does connect with that thought. It says, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died . . . . Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:14, 17–21)

Sometimes I fail to follow God’s calling. When that happens, “I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin. But my foes are vigorous, they are mighty . . . . Those who render me evil for good accuse me because I follow after good.”

The last part of these words describes the spiritual battle that occurs when I’m determined to obey God with all my heart and soul. Jesus defeated sin and death and Satan at the cross and in rising from the dead, but the war is not ended. This victory is something like the difference between D-Day and V-Day in WWII. The battle was won long before the final victory was declared.

To put it another way, the enemy attacks are something like a bell that keeps on ringing after the rope is no longer being pulled. The bell’s power is gone, but it moves anyway, like a chicken with its head cut off. He is defeated but taking his time dropping out of the skirmish. (Pardon the mixed metaphors!)

The last part of that psalm is my prayer for today’s battles: “Do not forsake me, O Lord! O my God, be not far from me! Make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation!” (Psalm 38:18–22) Yet this is a prayer I know is already answered, for Jesus promises to never leave me. He is my Savior yesterday, today, tomorrow, and forever. Because He was willing to die for me on that Good Friday, I can count on Him to never be far away.

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