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Good Friday

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Good Friday

Today’s words of encouragement comes special for the remembrance of Good Friday, and is taken from today’s reflection by Oswald Chambers in “My Utmost for His Highest”:

“. . . who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree . . .”  (1 Peter 2:24)

“The Cross of Christ is the revealed truth of God’s judgment on sin. Never associate the idea of martyrdom with the Cross of Christ. It was the supreme triumph, and it shook the very foundations of hell. There is nothing in time or eternity more absolutely certain and irrefutable than what Jesus Christ accomplished on the Cross— He made it possible for the entire human race to be brought back into a right-standing relationship with God. He made redemption the foundation of human life; that is, He made a way for every person to have fellowship with God.

“The Cross was not something that happened to Jesus— He came to die; the Cross was His purpose in coming. He is ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8).  The incarnation of Christ would have no meaning without the Cross. Beware of separating ‘God was manifested in the flesh. . .’ from . . . ‘He made Him. . . to be sin for us. . .’ (1 Timothy 3:16 ; 2 Corinthians 5:21). The purpose of the incarnation was redemption. God came in the flesh to take sin away, not to accomplish something for Himself. The Cross is the central event in time and eternity, and the answer to all the problems of both.

“The Cross is not the cross of a man, but the Cross of God, and it can never be fully comprehended through human experience. The Cross is God exhibiting His nature. It is the gate through which any and every individual can enter into oneness with God. But it is not a gate we pass right through; it is one where we abide in the life that is found there.

“The heart of salvation is the Cross of Christ. The reason salvation is so easy to obtain is that it cost God so much. The Cross was the place where God and sinful man merged with a tremendous collision and where the way to life was opened. But all the cost and pain of the collision was absorbed by the heart of God.”

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Good Friday

“And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus.” (Luke 23:50-52, KJV)

The first word of advice to newly-elected Pope Francis came from a fellow bishop, Cardinal Claudio Hummes of Brazil: “Don’t forget the poor.”

Joseph of Arimathaea, whom history kindly remembers for giving Jesus a decent burial in a tomb that had never before been used (yes, tombs were “recycled”), is to be emulated because he remembered a poor Jesus as he “waited for the kingdom of God.”

Joseph had at least one encounter with Jesus: He was a member of the religious council that had put Jesus on trial. However, Joseph did not agree with the council’s conclusions, nor with its decision to press the Romans for Jesus’ death. Whether this was Joseph’s only encounter with Jesus, or whether Joseph had also heard Him teach in the synagogue, or had heard Him preach in the villages, I do not know. But scripture is clear that Joseph was a good and just man, who “waited for the kingdom of God.”

We can surmise that Joseph was a man of money and influence, since poor people in those days didn’t own tombs; and inconsequential people weren’t given audiences with high government officials like Pilate. On the other hand, on that Good Friday, Jesus was the poorest of the poor: His clothing — taken; His disciples — absent; His dignity — surrendered; His good name — sullied; His body — broken; His life — gone.

Most people are very uncomfortable with the poverty of others, as if it were contagious. Joseph of Arimathaea was not afraid.  As he waited for the kingdom of God, Joseph did good by not forgetting the poor. Whether a pope or a pedestrian on the highway of life, there is no higher office than “servant of the poor.” As we do to the least of these — the poor — we do to Jesus.   – Luther

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