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The Word on the Week

Good Friday.

What is good about Good Friday? Isn’t that the day Jesus was killed? Wasn’t He forsaken by His heavenly father? What else could the cry of dereliction mean? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus was echoing the prophetic words penned by King David 1,000 years before the crucifixion in Psalm 22.

What is good about being deserted by his friends? Just when he needed them most they were gone. As Zechariah wrote, “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered”.

Indeed the Good Shepherd had been stricken, but by who? The Romans? The Jews? Surely not by God the Father? But Isaiah Ch.53 says He was. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” It was why the angel said he came to earth, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

So how did Jesus the Good Shepherd become their saviour? St John writes, “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” The shepherd becomes the sacrificial lamb. St John quoting John the Baptist writes, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Jesus confirmed his calling when at the Last Supper He changed the direction of the Passover from remembering their deliverance from Egypt to a memorial focused on Himself, “He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. St Matthew chapter 26 verses 27/8.

It is not good enough the relate the work of Calvary to the Sermon on the Mount and the Isaiah scroll from which Jesus read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.” These identified Jesus as the Messiah and indicated to us what sort of God, God the Father is.

The newspapers sell us short in their Easter editorials when they simply imply that Jesus died for a good cause.

The pulpits also deflect our attention from the wonder of “Amazing love how can it be that thou my God should die for me” to the illustration of the bread and the cup, substituting the image for the reality. Jesus has actually finished the work of salvation.

The glory of Easter is that He who was forsaken by His heavenly Father in order that we who repent of our sins and turn away from them to trust in His sinbearing sacrifice will never be forsaken but enter into that new life of being a child in the family of our triune God.