Chip Stapleton Highland Presbyterian Church April 10th, 2020 Hunkered Down Devotions
Psalm 22:1-2; 24; 27-31 (VOICE)
1 My God, my God, why have You turned Your back on me? Your ears are deaf to my groans. 2 O my God, I cry all day and You are silent; my tears in the night bring no relief.
24 He’s not put off by the suffering of the suffering one; He doesn’t pretend He hasn’t seen him; when he pleaded for help, He listened.
27 Those from the farthest reaches of the earth will remember and turn back to look for the Eternal; All the families of the nations will worship You. 28 The Eternal owns the world; He exercises His gentle rule over all the nations.
29 All the wealthy of the world will eat and worship; all those who fall in the dust will bow before Him, even the life that is headed to the grave. 30 Our children will serve Him; future generations will hear the story of how the Lord rescued us. 31 They will tell the generations to come of the righteousness of the Lord, of what He has done.
Today is the darkest day of the church year, the day that we remember Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. And yet, we call this day, ‘Good Friday’. How can that be? What possible sense does it make to call this terrible day, when we mark the painful, horrific death of our God, ‘good?’
If you are reading this, chances are that you actually already know the answer, but it is important enough to repeat and to be reminded of. There are several things that make this day ‘good’ for us.
The first of those is highlighted by the opening two verses of Psalm 22. This psalm of lament opens with the writer asking God ‘why have you turned your back on me? The traditional language of this verse we know well, but not from this Psalm, but rather from Jesus quoting it while he hung on the cross, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
In these two passages we are reminded that Jesus, our God and our Savior, knows what it feels like to feel forsaken. Jesus, our God and our Savior, knows what it feels like to feel ignored and what it feels like to ask for help and not receive it.
What this means is that there is no situation, no trouble, pain or suffering that we can experience in this life that God can’t empathize with. God, in Jesus, knows how we feel and God will not leave us alone in our suffering and pain. God suffers with us. Jesus weeps with us. The Holy Spirit mourns and grieves with us. We are never alone in our troubles, because God is with us.
The second reason this is a ‘good’ Friday for us, is that not only does God meet us in our suffering and pain, but God is faithful, God walks with us through it and eventually, brings us to the other side. However, we know that in this fallen and broken world sometimes our suffering and pain ends in death.
That brings us to the third reason this is a ‘good’ Friday for all of us is that Jesus death on the cross is not the end. Rather his death is the beginning of the end for the power of death and sin over us and our world. This is Good Friday not because of Jesus’ death, but because of why he was willing to die – for us – and what his death accomplished – God’s ultimate and final victory over the power of sin.
Because of Jesus’ sacrificial life and death – and of course his coming resurrection – we have been reconciled to God and have been restored into relationship with God as his beloved children.
Today we remember that we are never alone, no matter how bad or difficult things might get. Today we celebrate the love of God – shown to us in and through Jesus Christ. A love that was faithful and sure – even to death by the cross. Praise God for that – and for all the good things that we have access to because of and through Jesus.
Sharing God’s Love,
Prayer: Loving God, help us slow down today and reflect on your love for us. Remind us that because of you and your sacrificial love, we can call today – and everyday – good. Help us live into the lives you have won for us with your victory over death, and help us to share that victory with the world around us. Amen.