Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Good Friday doesn't get as much attention as Christmas, or even Black Friday for that matter. But to me, Good Friday is one of the most, if not the most, important day of the year. This is the died that Jesus died on the cross. This is the day that bridged the gap between men and God. Between me and God.

I'm currently reading a book called "A Walk With Christ to the Cross" which is all about the last 14 hours of Christ's earthly mission. It's a great book. I highly recommend it. It's an easy read with depth that makes you stop and think while in the middle of a sentence. This is a great book to be reading during Lent/Holy Week. Last night I read the chapter about the crucifixion. I never really stopped to think just how horrendous and torturous His death on the cross really was. I mean I knew it was bad. After watching the movie "The Passion of the Christ" I knew it was really bad. The visualization of it gave me chills. But while reading this chapter last night, it really got into the details of the cross. Scripture doesn't elaborate on this for whatever reason. Most gospels just acknowledge that He was crucified. They include being tortured, mocked, etc., but not what a crucifixion really entails. I guess if I wanted to know I could've always looked it up, but I never did. This book really shed some light on the subject for me, making me all the more appreciative of His sacrifice.

The following is an excerpt from Dawson McAllister's book "A Walk With Christ to the Cross"
pgs 122-124.

"If you've heard anything about crucifixion, you know it's not a pretty death. They took Christ and laid Him on two wooden posts that formed a "T," then drove large metal spkes through His wrists into the cross beam. We often see pictures of Christs with holes in His palms, but the Greek word for "hand" can also mean "wrist." The palm would have torn from the weight of His body, thus most scholars believe the spikes were driven between two small bones on the inner side of His lower arm. The soldiers were careful not to hit an artery, or He would have bled to death very quickly. Crucifixion was not about dying quickly--most victims suffered seventy-two hours or more before they perished.

After nailing His hands they placed a small block of wood under His back, pushed His knees toward His chest, and then drove a single spike through both feet. The soldiers were careful to keep Jesus' knees high toward the chest; this would allow Him to push up against the block, prolonging His life and, thus, the pain. The Romans had perfected the "art" of using this torture tool. They knew if a victim's arms and legs were outstretched, in a swan-dive position, the blood would begin to settle toward the bottom of the body. This would cause low blood pressure and a high pulse rate, allowing the victim to pass out. For this reason, they provided a small wooden block, or saddle, for the victim to sit on. This kept the blood circulating, and the victim would stay conscious in order to experience more pain.

Often a victim's pectoral muscles would freeze, or atrophy, and we can only imagine the level of discomfort that settled in the upper arms, neck, and shoulders. This meant air would come into the lungs, but not escapre, causing a person to choke to death. To avoid this the victim would often stand up, placing pressure on his feet in order to relieve pain in the arms and chest. Also, some believe the small saddle was sharply pointed; as the victim struggled and moved in order to find comfort, there was damage to the tailbone as well.

Once Jesus' hands and feet were nailed in place, the four soldiers lifted up the corss with Jesus on it and shoved it into a hole dug for the occasion. The jolt of the cross falling into the hole must have been a tremendous shock to Jesus' body. This may be conjecture, but I wonder if this is when Christ's bones popped out of joint. I don't know how anyone could stand up on a cross with a dislocated ankle, or knee, or elbow. Yet the Bible tells us when jesus hung on the cross all His bones were out of joint: "I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me" (Ps. 22:14 NIV)."

This doesn't even include the scourging He endured. The humiliation He endured. The beatings, verbal and physical abuse he endured. The mental anguish that occured within Him. This is just the actual act of being nailed to the cross.

I've said before how I feel as though I'm gaining a deeper connection with the cross and this has just been another way. Choosing this book at random, reading that chapter last night-it was no coincidence. Christ is drawing me to Him, helping me to understand just how much He loves me. Helping me to understand all that He went through to save me. Helping me to be ever thankful for His sacrifice.

Jesus could've saved Himself that day. He could have come down from the cross infront of his mockers and proven Himself to be Who He said He Was. But He chose to endure the suffering, shame, and torture of the cross for me. Though blameless and perfect, He chose to take on the sins of the world, my sins, in order to save us. I can't even begin to imagine how hard that day was for Him. He was so selfless to a selfish world. He paid the price for my sins so that we may have communion with a holy God.

And I think of Doug's sermon a couple weeks ago about God the Father in this situation. To have to tune out the cries of His only Son. To have to turn His back on Him. To have to let Him die in order that we might live. I can't say it any better than Doug did-so take a listen here. It's in the lower left corner titled "My God, My God, Why hast Thou Forsaken Me?"  

Jesus took on the sins of the world-past, present, and future.  He suffered the consequences for ours sins until the wrath of God was satisfied.  And it is finished.  Once and for all.  Dawson mentions this in his book on pages 156-158 as Tetelestoi.  

He writes, "Then He yelled out in victory "!"  This English phrase is actually one word in the original language--Tetelestoi.  It was often used to describe the idea of being paid in full, or that of "perfect completion."  People would use this word to describe something so perfect that nothing could be added to it.  When an artist had a perfect drawing he would say, "Tetelestoi."  Or when a debt was paid in full, the one who loaned the money would say, "Tetelestoi."

How true this is.  The cross was a one time deal.  Jesus paid the price for our sins that we may have eternal life.  This Good Friday it's raining. It's supposed to be gloomy and raining all day. But I don't mind. I think it's so fitting for the occasion. For some reason it helps me to tune into the essence of Good Friday.

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