Good Friday Devotional
GATHERING HYMN. There is a green hill far away.
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Jesus said, Now is the judgement of this world, now shall the ruler of this world be cast out; and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.
1. The Cross and Judgement
"The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth." Isaiah 24.
"God made him one with the sinfulness of men, so that in him we might be made one with the goodness of God." 2Cor.5:21.
Terrible words, A sentimental and hedonist generation tries to eliminate 'wrath' from its conception of God. Of course, if 'anger' and 'wrath' are taken to mean the emotional reaction of an irritated self-concern, there is no such thing in God. But if God is holy love, and I am in any degree given to uncleanness or selfishness, then there is, in that degree, stark antagonism in God against me. And so long as I am disobedient that wrath continues."
William Temple. Reading in St.John's Gospel
2. The Cross and Guilt
Miserable creature that I am, who is there to rescue me out of this body doomed to death? Romans 7:24
When anyone is united to Christ, there is a new world - a new act of creation. 2Cor.5:17
To look at the Holy One with realising mind is to become aware that there is in us an impurity and impotence for which we are answerable. The paradox confronts us: because we are answerable, there can be for us no excuse, yet because we are answerable, and sin has not merely happened to us as an infection might, it is possible for us to be forgiven. Only guilty sin can be pardoned; there has taken place a disturbance of our personal relationship to God, and this he can rectify. Indeed, the sense of guilt is of itself a token of hope; it proves we are not hopelessly lost to goodness, because our eyes are not fast closed to the reality of God. Willingness to accuse ourselves is evidence that he has not wholly forsaken us.
H.R. Mackintosh, The Christian Experience of Forgiveness.
3. The Cross and Futility
Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith. Hab.2:4.
Once allow Christ and him crucified to be indeed the express image of the invisible God: once see him as "the richness of God's free grace lavished upon us, imparting full wisdom and insight", and we begin to see history, all mankind and ourselves in a new way. We discover "the hidden purposes of God". The Cross is the beginning of the end of futility and it is that for two reasons. As the Bible presents it, the Cross has a cosmic significance, transcending as well as including history. And it also speaks to me as an individual. "The Son of God..... loved me and sacrificed himself for me". There can be no futility if " my present bodily life is lived by faith in the Son of God".
Max Warren, Interpreting the Cross.
4. The Cross and Death
Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise. O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing for joy: For your dew is a dew of light, and on the land of the shades you will let it fall. Isaiah 26:19
We have crossed from death to life. 1John 3:14.
Here was a man, ready to go to any lengths in the service of others - affirming by his life, and then by his death, that love was to him ultimately important; and doing so in the name of God. And when the point of no return had been reached - he did return. This is the extraordinary conviction that overtook and forced itself upon the men and women who had known him best and for whom his death had done its worst.
C.F.D Moule, Is Christ Unique?
5. The Cross and Forgiveness
Formerly you were yourselves estranged from God; you were his enemies in heart and mind, and your deeds were evil. But now by Christ's death in his body of flesh and blood God has reconciled you to himself, so that he may present you before himself as dedicated men, without blemish and innocent in his sight. Colossians 1:21-22.
It lies not on the sunlit hill
Nor on the sunlit plain:
Nor ever on any running stream
Nor on the unclouded main -
But sometimes, through the Soul of Man
Slow moving o'er his pain
The moonlight of a perfect peace
Floods heart and brain.
Fiona MacLeod, The White Peace
6. The Cross and Love
As Christ's cup of suffering overflows, and we suffer with him, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. 2Cor.1:5.
Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised again. 2Cor.5:14.
There is a sense in which being loved is prior to loving. Love needs to be evoked, and we cannot love to order. Yet it is of the essence of love not to be limited or exclusive, but to be ever outgoing. Therefore there is a sense in which we must love the whole before we can love the part; otherwise there cannot be the right attitude towards a newly experienced individual or group. The right approach implies a prior assumption of acceptance. This situation spells frustration unless there is a universal resource of love available, in response to which we can make that prior acceptance which conditions our individual responses. The assumption of a loving God makes sense of that dilemma. "Love one another, for love is of God." Indeed we cannot love any human individual truly unless we love God; since our love can be purified of selfishness, possessiveness, only if we have the ultimate assurance of being possessed by God.
M.C.V Jeffreys, Mystery of Man
7. The Cross and Believing
Men of Israel, listen to me: I speak of Jesus of Nazareth, a man singled out by God... you used heathen men to crucify and kill him. But God raised him to life again... repent and be baptised, every one of you... and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts2-38.
It was my failure to see any need for Christ. The need for God I could understand, and the need for religion; I could even sympathise with devotees like Suso or St.Francis, who weave fantasies around the Cross, the nails, and all the other traditional symbols. But ultimately I could not accept the need for redemption by a Saviour. To pin down the idea of salvation to one point in space and time seemed a naive kind of anthropomorphosis.
Colin Wilson, The Outsider
BIBLE READING. Mark 15:21-41.
CLOSING HYMN. When I survey the wondrous cross.
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