Good Friday Was Not a Funeral, but the Victory of God

 

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him (Col. 2:13-15).

Many misunderstand, they see the Cross as a defeat. They see Christ’s weakness, suffering, and humiliation as failure to convince the crowds, persuade the Jewish leaders, and empower the disciples. Some grand misunderstanding created this tragedy, surely if all sides could have talked this terrible event would have never happened. In the minds of these bemoaners, Christ’s death was a great tragedy, but nothing more.  For some, God by the power of the resurrection snatched victory from jaws of the Cross’ defeat. He rescued Jesus from utter humiliation. The resurrection saved the day.

Nothing is further from the truth. The Cross is the victory of God and the resurrection is the announcement to the world that the Christ has triumphed over all our foes. The Cross was not a defeat, but the astonishing victory of God over the world, the flesh, sin, death, and the devil.

A number of metaphors are used in scripture to describe the finished work of Christ on the Cross:

Victory is taken from the military: Christ has conquered Satan and his oppression, our sin and its enslavement, and death and its control (1 Cor. 15:57).

Justification is taken from the law court: God’s declaration that by faith in Christ we are declared righteous before him (Rom. 3:21-26; Gal. 2:15-16).

Adoption is taken from the family: we are granted legal status as sons of God and heirs of the Kingdom (Rom. 8:17, 23; Gal. 4:1-7).

Reconciliation is taken from the home: the Cross restores our broken relationship with the Father (Rom. 5:10-11; 2 Cor. 5:16-21).

Forgiveness of our offenses that frees from guilt and shame, redemption  and ransom paid to free us from bondage and captivity caused by our sin (1 Cor. 6:19),

Healing is taken from the hospital: we are restored with all of creation from the brokenness created by our sin (Isa. 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24-25).

Propitiation is taken from Temple worship: God satisfies his own wrath by offering himself to suffer the just punishment for our sins (Rom 3:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10 NASB).

Representative bringing us all the privileges of the new covenant (Rom. 5:17), participation in all the benefits of his death, burial, and resurrection (Rom. 6), and substitution for he took upon himself our punishment, guilt, and shame (Rom. 4:25).

The Cross accomplished all these things and more.

The whole story in the New Testament is written, as I have said, from the point of view of the Resurrection, and the Christian faith is inexplicable otherwise. Another point to be made is that the story of the Resurrection is not told in the New Testament as the story of a victory which wipes out the defeat of the Cross.

On the contrary, there is great emphasis laid on the fact that the risen Lord is the crucified one. It is said that when, he showed himself to his disciples, he showed them his hands and his side. In other words he identified himself deliberately to them as the one who had been crucified. And according to the records that we have, in his teaching of them, he emphasised the fact that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer in this way.

Above all in Paul, whose life as a Christian began with a meeting with the risen Lord, it is nevertheless the Cross which is the centre of his message. The Cross, in other words, is not put before us a defeat overruled by God; on the contrary, the Cross is put before us as a victory which was acknowledged and ratified by God.

Bishop Lesslie Newbigin, Journey Into Joy (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), 45.

Palm Sunday: Day Forty, Forty Days of Prayer

 

Thank you for joining Lamb of God parish during our forty days of Lenten prayer and fasting. As you prayed with us each day, many of you commented through email and Facebook, that the daily written prayers greatly encouraged you in your walk with God. For that, we are deeply grateful. Thanks to Fr. Glenn, Fr. Scott, India, Nancy, and Nicholas for writing prayers that kept us focused on the magnificence of the Father, the beauty of the Son, and the power of the Holy Spirit. May your walk with the Lord abound and prosper as you continue to seek, follow, and obey our blessed Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Almighty and everliving God, in your tender love for the human race you sent your Son our Savior Jesus Christ to take upon him our nature, and to suffer death upon the cross, giving us the example of his great humility: Mercifully grant that we may walk in the way of his suffering, and also share in his resurrection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

—1979 Book of Common Prayer

 

Christ Our Intercessor: Day Thirty-Nine, Forty Days of Prayer

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).

Dear Lord, thank you that you defeated death, hell, and the grave and are seated at God’s right hand. Thank you, that you entered the Holy of Holies and you are praying to the Father for me right now. I give you thanks because you are in control of all the circumstances of my life. I know that nothing that happens today is beyond your reach. Lord, I trust you to work through me. If there is any thought, word, or deed in me that is not obedient to you, please show me, and help me to change it.

~~Nicholas Beckham

Fill Us, Holy Spirit: Day Thirty-Eight, Forty Days of Prayer

Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18 ESV) 

Heavenly Father, through the ascension of your Son Jesus, our Lord, you sent the Holy Spirit to come alongside us and to fill us, to give us power to live lives of faithful obedience, to love our neighbor and minister effectively. We know you to be a good Father who gives good gifts to His children and the Holy Spirit to those who ask. Fill me, my family, and my fellow believers afresh with your Holy Spirit today. Give us the gifts of the Spirit so we may minister to each other and our community in His power. Lastly, manifest through us the fruits of your Spirit so that our lives display Jesus and bring you glory. Amen.

~~ Fr. Scott Howard

Freedom from Fear: Thirty-Seven, Forty Days of Prayer

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9 NLT).

Lord, forgive us for giving in to fear. We fear debt and poverty, so we don’t give as You’ve directed us. We fear for our children, so we worry about them instead of seeking Your guidance for their lives. We fear how the actions of politicians will affect us so we put our trust in different politicians. We haven’t practiced your presence so we lay awake at night in fear over what has happened, what could happen, and what will likely never happen. We’ve given in to fear and have turned from You, the fountain of living water, and have sought for answers from false sources.

We repent of practicing fear, and seek Your grace and presence to direct our every thought. Your word tells us that perfect love casts out fear. Fill us with Your perfect love that You displayed on Calvary, and let that love cast the fear out of our lives. Let our gaze and thoughts always be centered on You, for only in love can we know perfect love, and experience lives where fear has been cast out. Amen.

–Fr. David Surrett

Your Working: Day Thirty-Six, Forty Days of Prayer

 

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4,5 ESV). 

Lord, thank you that you did not create and then abandon this earth, but that you intervene in human history. Thank you that you are working out your sovereign purposes despite our rebellion to your will. You have not left us to our own devices. By your sovereign hand, you led your people Israel out of Egypt. By your power, you gave them the Law and the Prophets, working miracles and deliverances even though they disobeyed you. Thank you for personally entering into human history and taking on our likeness and frailty. Thank you for offering yourself as the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.

You have made us a part of your covenant people and allowed us to share in all the blessings and promises of Abraham. Pray, Lord Jesus Christ, work in our lives as you did in the lives of the faithful men and women of old. O’ Lord, work in us as you worked in them. Pray, transform into us the likeness of your incarnate Son, that our lives may reflect the beauty of your holiness. In Jesus’s blessed name, we pray. Amen.

~~Nicholas Beckham

My Burdens: Day Thirty-Five, Forty Days of Prayer

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved (Psalm 55:22 ESV). 

Lord, we cast our burdens upon you for they are heavy. Our hearts are broken and downcast. Our spirits are burdened over loved ones who are sick, lost, and dying. Please come and sustain us as you have promised. Please heal and save those we fervently love and diligently serve. Let us not be moved from steadfast faith and complete trust in your all-mighty power. Do not allow Satan to come and steal our hope in your faithfulness. We thank you, Lord, that you hear our prayers on behalf of our loved ones. Come and have mercy on us, we pray in Jesus’s name. Amen!

~~India B. Davis

Boldness: Day Thirty-Four, Forty Days of Prayer

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness (Acts 4:29-31 ESV).

Father, you know I am afraid of rejection, of being seen as one of those weird Christians, but I know that so many around me need Jesus as I need Him. Open my eyes to opportunities to tell people about Him, to share how He has been my help in times of need, my healer and friend. Give me boldness and words to speak when these opportunities come. And show yourself strong on their behalf by healing, providing, encouraging and meeting them in their deepest needs. Amen.

~~Fr. Scott Howard

Burn Away Everything: Day Thirty-Three, Forty Days of Prayer

He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross (Mal. 3:3).

Father, in Jesus’ name, burn away every dream, desire, attitude, thought, feeling, word and action that is not a result of Your Spirit reigning in my life.

Burn away everything that is more important to me than my revelation of You and my relationship with You.

Burn away everything that hinders me from loving You with all my heart and loving my neighbors as I love myself.

Burn away everything that hinders me from hearing and obeying Your voice.

Burn away everything I believe about who You are and what You are like that is not the Truth.

Burn away everything in my heart and mind that causes me to desire to harm or destroy those who desire or act to harm or destroy me.

Burn away the lust of my eyes, lust of my flesh and pride of life.

Burn away everything that causes me to desire to own or possess anything that is not rightfully mine.

Burn away everything that causes me to desire to lie or exaggerate to get what I want or impress or harm others.

Father, in Jesus’ name, I ask that I will be deeply intimate with You, filled with your Holy Spirit, free of pride, lust, and fear, loving, patient, kind, tenderhearted, forgiving, joyful, thankful, grateful, humble, considerate, healthy, successful, prosperous and very generous. Amen.

~~Dr. James “Jay” H. Ferguson

True Worshipers: Day Thirty-Two, Forty Days of Prayer

Yet a time is coming and has come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23-24).

Father, we love and adore you and we desire to worship you in Spirit and in truth. You seek worshipers who long for you as a deer seeks water. Only through your grace can we lay down our personal desires for our needs, set aside the way we want things to turn out and surrender our will to yours. As we release our demands, change our hearts so that we can be true worshipers; those who know the truth about you and your will toward us and who blissfully gaze on your holiness and are remade in your image. Let our hearts be flooded with the kind of love that leads us to seek your face, not your hand. In Your Blessed Name. Amen.

~~Nancy Beckham