By John Larkins
By the time this message is circulated, the Church calendar will be on Good Friday. In Jesus’ Church, all will be dark and colorful decorations will be missing. Candles will not be lit. His physical body and blood will be away. We recall His torture and cruel march carrying His awful cross, to which He would be nailed.
The crowds lining Jesus’ heartbreaking journey were many of those Jews who had welcomed Him to Jerusalem only four days earlier. Now He was their choice to be crucified while Barabbas, a career criminal, was to be freed. Stripped naked, held up by this instrument of torture, Jesus was with His Mother, His youngest apostle John and the other Mary.
One of the two criminals killed with Jesus recognized Him as the Holy One and earned salvation. After perhaps three hours of holding Himself up to avoid being suffocated, He said, “It is finished,” and died. At that moment, the curtain of the Inner Room at the temple was torn in two, signaling that God no longer lived in the Jewish Temple because Judaism was completed and over.
That chapter of God’s Way, having served its purpose of preparing the Jews to convert to The Kingdom of God, gave way to the new religion Jesus taught was the path to salvation. Earthquakes, thunder and lightning were the earth’s response to our Savior’s death. A Roman soldier, observing all he saw said, “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”
With all this gloom and sadness, how can Good Friday be called “good?” The reason is because it was good for us as this sacrifice was to be given to His Church for the salvation of all mankind. God’s Way is manifest!
Several prophecies in the Old Testament prepared those who were faithful to God for this time of the Savior. We know by revelation that this catastrophic price, the murder of the Son of God, was the price to open Heaven to those whom God judged as His eternal companions. All those who had died in God’s friendship would be prepared for their next step toward Heaven. The Bible says that Jesus spent three days with the prisoners. The next logical provision for salvation was, and is, those who are alive.
Think back to the words of Jesus when He visited John the Baptist on the banks of the Jordan. He said, “Today is the beginning of the Kingdom of God.” John knew his cousin was the Savior that he was preparing the way for by his water baptisms. He instructed those who had been following him that Jesus was the anointed one. Jesus was teaching a new doctrine to replace Mosaic teachings. Jesus said, “You cannot put new wine in an old wineskin.” Jesus later told the crowd,” Unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you cannot be saved.” Jesus had to be careful in what He said in public, because He did not want to be turned over to the Temple leaders (who should be figuring at that point that if Judaism was being replaced and the Temple out of business, their highly prestigious jobs and lifestyle were in real danger) who would have Him put to death for claiming to be God.
A few days beforehand, at what we call the Last Supper, Jesus had told the apostles again about His body and blood. In showing them the Blessed bread and wine, He said, “This is my body and blood of the New and Everlasting covenant, do this in memory of me.” They all partook of this sacrifice. In the wonderful Bible passages in Matthew and Mark, Jesus is passing His holy mission on to the existing apostles and their delegated Church priests and bishops. He said, “My Father has given me all power on heaven and earth, and now I am giving it to you.”
When you read the Acts of the Apostles, you will see that Church dispensing Jesus’ salvific grace through the Holy Sacraments for His salvation. Will all humans accept His gift?
For the past 15 years, John Larkins has evangelized on the street, door-to-door, in tent revivals and in church situations. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.