The older I get, the more I tend to appreciate things. I know, there are a lot of old folks that tell us to slow down and appreciate things; but they may be on to something.
One of the major things I’ve come to appreciate is Friday. I know, how original! There are a multitude of sayings that go along with the close of the work week. “TGIF” (Thank God It’s Friday) is probably the most widely used phrase I see on Facebook and Twitter as each week winds down. And really, who wouldn’t love Friday? For most, it means two days off from work. Time to spend with family. Time to attend a worship service with a church family. Time to get things done around the house that get put off when the busyness of the week gets to be too much. In short, our Fridays are the lead-in to our rest; our break; our salvation from the stresses of life.
About 2,000 years ago, I believe TGIF gained a whole, new meaning. You see, it was the lead up to something spectacular. On this one Friday, we received the right to rest from our labors; we caught a break from the slavery of the things that weigh us down; and our permanent salvation was won for us.
In fact, the One that provided all of these rights for us uttered a phrase much like we might declare at the end of the workweek,
“It is finished…”
However, this One, this man named Jesus, wasn’t talking about being ready for a two day break from the work week. What was “finished” is infinitely bigger than that. You see, the only way that these rights could be granted to us was for Him to die. It sounds weird, but it’s true. Here is how the Bible puts it in Genesis 2:16-17:
But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.”
As many of you are aware, the man and woman (Adam and Eve) rebelled against God and chose to eat from the very tree God had asked them not to. The result of this rebellion is that they would die. And, they did eventually; but not before passing down their DNA to the rest of us. The bummer part is that that very DNA was laced with sin.
Unfortunately, this rebellious nature, what we call sinful nature, has been passed down to every person since then – including you and me. As Paul put it in Romans 5:12:
When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.
So, we have been stuck trying to make our lives meaningful, to overcome our sin, to right our wrongs, to gain our salvation, ever since that fateful day several thousand years ago when Adam and Eve took the bite heard ’round the world. We work tirelessly, wanting to rest from the burdens that we carry: the guilt of lives hurt; the shames of failure; the scars of betrayal; the pain of sickness; the sorrow of death – and the list goes on and on. We need a Friday so we can look forward to the time when we don’t have to worry about this stuff anymore. But, not just a Friday every seven days. We need like a Super Friday!
God, in his infinite wisdom and love gave us just that. You may know it as “Good Friday.” It’s an odd saying, as it was an absolutely brutal Friday for Jesus and his followers. On that one day, Jesus took all of our burdens, all of our sorrows, all of our shame, all of our hurts, our death sentences, and all of our sins to the cross. On that glorious day, Jesus paid the price for our rebellion, our sin, and died in our place. Here’s how Paul records it in Romans 5:6-11:
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. 9 And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.
He went to the cross willingly, knowing full well that we had done nothing to deserve his sacrifice. But, his love for us is so strong that he decided to do it anyway. In that moment, as he breathed his last breath, the thing that was finished, completed, was salvation.
But, this salvation isn’t just for a weekend, or a couple of days. No, this salvation is for all eternity. You see, when we accept Jesus’ sacrifice for us on the cross, we are promised eternal life (John 3:16); the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38); freedom from our burdens (Matthew 11:28); a confident hope of what is to come (Ephesians 1:18); and peace for today (John 14:27). In addition, we are promised that Jesus will return (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) to end this world and take us home to Heaven, where there will be no more sorrow, no more tears, no more sin, and no more death (Revelation 21:4).
So, what’s so good about this Friday? Nothing in particular. But, use today, this “Good Friday” to remember that Jesus did, in fact, die in your place nearly two millenniums ago. He did this knowing everything about you: all your fears; all of your failures; all of your shame; and all of your sins. And, after considering all of this, he decided to die for you anyway, because he loves you that much.
Use this Friday to renew your relationship with Jesus. Maybe you are solid in your faith. Use today to thank God for his intimate relationship with you and share how amazing it is with others. Maybe you’ve drifted apart from God, and you want to renew your relationship with Christ. Let today be the day that you reaffirm the relationship you’ve moved away from. Maybe you’ve never had a good relationship with Jesus because of a million different reasons. Make today the day that you fully accept his sacrifice for you. The apostle John put it this way in John 15:13:
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
God, through his son, Jesus, wants to be your best friend. He laid down his life in place of yours. He’s done his part. His work is finished. Take the final steps today and reach out to him. Accept his sacrifice, and embrace the peace, hope, and love that Jesus brings.
Oh, and one more thing, TGIF!