Good Friday worship
From the editorby Everett J. Thomas
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, “he sat down at the right hand of God.”—Hebrews 10:12
Sacrifice is a word oddly out of place in our culture. But it appears more than 200 times in the Bible. The writer of Hebrews, in that distinctly Jewish book, describes Jesus’ death on the cross as a single sacrifice that removes sins “for all time.”
Maybe it would make more sense to us if we substituted the word “worship” for “sacrifice.” We get closest to this understanding when we sing about “the sacrifice of praise.”
In the religious community of Jesus’ day, central elements of each worship service were the sacrifices offered by priests as expressions of adoration for God. We often get hung up on the expiation dynamic of sacrifices—the sacrificial offering in exchange for forgiveness of sins. But sacrifices were more than transactions. Originally, they were also radical acts of worship.
God tested Abraham’s faith in Genesis 22 by asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. The text says Abraham told his servants he and Isaac would go by themselves to “worship” God. The act of worship Abraham expected was sacrificing Isaac. Nothing in the story suggests Abraham was to sacrifice Isaac because of Abraham’s sins.
On Good Friday, God sacrifices his “only begotten son” because he loves us that much. Calvary was an act of God sacrificing for—worshipping all—humankind. Abraham was willing to give up what mattered most to him—biological posterity—but God intervened. However, there was no such intervention to save God from sacrificing his only begotten son.
Our mortality is the ultimate end of our bodies. All humans die. It was with this most extreme of experiences that God chose to demonstrate his love for us. But God also demonstrated that he is more powerful than mortal death. This is why we know that everyone who believes that Jesus was God’s son may have eternal life.
On Good Friday, I try to imagine what God the Father was experiencing during Jesus’ crucifixion and death. This is not to discount the horrendous torture and pain Jesus suffered. But as a parent, I cannot comprehend the agony of watching my child being tortured and then dying a slow death when I was powerful enough to save him or her.
God did this for us, however.
If there is a child in your life who is very special to you, imagine whether there is anything you love enough to allow such personal devastation for that child. Then turn it around and imagine God loving us so much that he permitted this awfulness in order to demonstrate—to prove—how much he loves us and all people who ever lived, are living now and will live in the future.
This is how much God “so loved the world” on Good Friday.—ejt
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