Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday-- Day of Tragedy, Promise of Hope

Day of Tragedy, Promise of Hope

There are days in the history of nations that are forever ingrained into the peoples' memory. Days of great Victory and days of tremendous tragedy. Sometimes I believe we better mark the Tragic days than the Victorious days. For the Jewish people in the Old & New Testaments, 3 moments of tragedy stand out

Isaiah 6--the great vision of God on his sovereign throne, surrounded by the Seraphim all occurs within the context of "In the Year that King Uzziah died"
In the midst of this terrible moment--God was still sovereign and on His throne and the vision was a vision that there is a mission that comes even in those moments.

In 586 BC, another tragedy struck--Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed by an invading army. The future was in doubt. How could they approach and worship God without the Temple?

70 years later, the generation carried off, upon their return, upon seeing the foundation of the new temple—were moved to tears. They remembered how it used to be--they remembered where they were when their world was shattered.

And yet there was hope. For this Temple survived and was expanded and became the Temple standing during the life of Jesus in which He was dedicated, in which He taught, in which He drove out the money changers.

All the renovations that Herod the Great started were finished in 66 AD, but just 4 years later, tragedy struck again and the Temple was destroyed by the Romans--and Judaism lives in this tragedy to this day. In many ways, their world was shattered--2000 years later, the Jewish people are still trying to make sense of it. They still hope for restoration, many still hope for a return to the Temple and for the coming of the Messiah.

The days following these events would have been hard--the stories lingering and being passed on for generations--"where were you when you heard about King Uzziah dying?" "Where were you when Jerusalem was destroyed?" "Where were you when the Romans destroyed the Temple."

Our own nation has experienced similar tragedies. I'm going to guess and say no one remembers where they were when Lincoln was assassinated. Maybe some will remember where you were on December 7th, 1941 when you heard news of Pearl Harbor. Maybe more will remember where you were when news came of Kennedy's assassination, November 22, 1963. For many, even the emotions of the days and following linger from September 11th--even our world was shattered and for many families, they have not recovered. The pain and loss is still too great. For those in New York, whether they walk, drive, or ride in the city--the skyline will remind them of what is missing.

Now you may be wondering, "I thought this was a Good Friday service?" It is... I say all this to perhaps give you and me a sense of the loss of this day and perhaps a sense of what the disciples would have been thinking and feeling.
For the Disciples and all those following Jesus--their world was destroyed and upended--their world was tragically altered. In just a few hours, some had gone from arguing about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven, to denying they even know Jesus, to hiding out in homes wondering if they would be next--preparing to say their last respects to the One they had devoted, some, the last 3 years of their life to.

Do you think they remembered where they were on that day? Do you there was a part of them that could not stop watching? Just as our own eyes in times of tragedy were glued to the reports, so were theirs.

Luke 23:27--a large number of people followed Him, including women who mourned and wailed for Him."

Some stayed to the end and watched from a distance—but close enough so that Jesus still saw to the future of His mother.

Some were so affected and so afraid that they couldn't bear to watch, so ashamed, so fearful that they couldn't get close, but hid themselves.

If this was the end of the story—the crucifixion of an innocent man—then none of us would dare call this moment—Good Friday. If the crucifixion were the end of the story—then perhaps for a few people, perhaps for a generation, they would tell their children—“I remember that day”, “I was there”

We talk about Good Friday 2000 years later, because 3 days later, that all changed. Something happened to them--their world was restored and they were given a greater power, a greater hope and reason for living.

To imagine how monumental this reality is. Imagine for a moment, how your life would have been affected if you woke up on December 10th, 1941, opened up the newspaper and read how miraculously, Pearl Harbor was restored, all the ships were back in their moorings, all the lives lost were restored

Imagine how you would feel if woke up 3 days later on November 25th, to read that Kennedy had come back to life.

Imagine if on September 14th, you woke up to see the World Trade Center Towers back in their place and all those who died were back.

What kind of emotions would you have?

It's hard to imagine isn't it? And yet, that is the life, the experience the followers of Jesus lived. 3 days later, their life was restored--their hope was restored, their faith in God was restored. Is it any wonder that they changed the world? Any wonder that they gave their lives for their Savior? What kind of confidence would you have to face the future?

For the world, the moments of tragedy linger, but for the believer, there is the Promise of Hope. This is where our Hope comes from, this is where our Power, our Joy, our Expectation comes from.

We have more than the Promise of Victory—we have its Demonstration. We have more than the promise of Restoration—we have its Fulfillment.

That Power, at work in raising Christ from the dead is available to you. All of that is available to you because we, you and I live in that victory.
Ephesians 1:18-23--I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

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