Archive for April, 2007

They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”) and offered Jesus wine mixed with gall to drink. But after tasting it, he would not drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided his clothes by throwing dice. Then they sat down and kept guard over him there. Above his head they put the charge against him, which read: “This is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” Then two outlaws were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by defamed him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross!” In the same way even the chief priests — together with the experts in the law and elders — were mocking him: “He saved others, but he cannot save himself! He is the king of Israel! If he comes down now from the cross, we will believe in him! He trusts in God — let God, if he wants to, deliver him now because he said, ‘I am God’s Son’!” The robbers who were crucified with him also spoke abusively to him.

Now from noon until three, darkness came over all the land. At about three o’clock Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me ?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, “Leave him alone! Let’s see if Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit.

– Matthew 27:33-50

I have to admit that Good Friday bugs me. What is so darn good about it. Let’s just take a moment and think about this. The greatest prophet, teacher, leader – the very son of God – is dead. He would no longer be around to teach us, lead us and guide us. We would have to be happy with the words and teaching he had given us to this point. It does not seem like it is a good Friday. In fact, we believe that he ascended into the very pit of hell. He suffered horribly. Why does that make such a good day. Okay, so he would rise again in a few days. He would come back to life and his church would greatly expand. That makes Sunday a good day, but not Friday. Friday is really a pretty crappy day, isn’t it.

This is exactly what I used to think, but then Pastor Jason St. Clair preached a sermon on Easter Sunday morning that brought it home. See Good Friday really had nothing to do with Jesus. Sure he died on that day, but it had nothing to do with him. It had to do with a sacrificial system that God had set up hundreds of years before. A substitutionary atonement was necessary for our sins to be covered. That is why animals lost their life at the altar. They were innocent, but they had to die so our sins could be covered. In fact, there was always one goat, the scapegoat, that received the sins of the nation on the Day of Atonement. That goat was not sacrificed like the rest. Instead, it was lead out into the desert and was watched until it died. When the animal was dead the watcher would come back and announce that the sins had been forgiven. See, Jesus is our scapegoat. He is innocent, but he hung on a cross he did not deserve. He was not the sacrifice that covered over our sins. He was the scapegoat that provided permanent forgiveness.

We have a choice. We will have atonement for our sins…

Will you atone for your own sin and therefore receive the ultimate punishment – separation from a Holy God.

Will you accept the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ that was brought on Good Friday and receive the ultimate reward – eternity with a Holy God.

Who will atone for your sin, you of Jesus?