Good Friday Celebrations in Singapore
Celebrating Good Friday? Isn’t it a bit crass to be feasting to remember the day a man died horribly on the cross? And as Christians, shouldn’t we be mourning the loss (and some might add, murder) of our great teacher and lord?
Good Friday is described as “good” for a reason: Jesus was born to die; as the eternal Son of God he came to earth as a human being specifically for the purpose of saving all other humans (who could not (and cannot) save themselves from the death penalty they were under for their sins).
We celebrate because Good Friday means that God has not forgotten the humans he created. Him remembering us would have been a scary prospect, since we have all rebelled against him (by not acknowledging him as our Creator and our God), and deserve only death. It would have been better if he had just forgotten about us, really. But the God of this world is both rightly just (and so must punish sin) and remarkably merciful, so while remembering our heinous crimes against the Deity, he has also given us a way to be saved from judgement.
(not roast lamb but delicious succulent roast pork collar, studded with apricots and garlic. nice with sides of French beans and sweet potato mash + double cream + horseradish. accompanied by Butler’s Grove Devil’s Revenge Mustard from Dart Valley Foods.)
Jesus was born as a Jew and the concept of God rightly judging Israel and yet giving them a way out was not new to them. The Passover, the day that Jesus died, was celebrated every year to commemorate how God saved the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Just a peek at the wrath of God, the death of all the firstborns in Egypt in one night, would put the fear of the LORD in the Pharaoh (who had a rather short-term memory, seeing he soon forgot his proper fear and went on to hunt down the Israelites later on) (Exodus 12).
The part of the instructions for the first Passover were to take a lamb without defect, slaughter it, paint the household doorframes with it, and roast the meat and eat it within the house. For what reason? Said God to Moses:
On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. (Exodus 8:12-13)
Waitaminute. Why were the people of Israel also in danger of the plague? Was God unable to control his power so he might have accidentally set the radius of his destructive scope a little too wide? Nope – he demonstrated that he was quite in control during the first 9 plagues, plus a little lamb’s blood on the doorframes wasn’t going to stop anything!
Did God need visual cues to tell him where his people were located? Nope – he managed to identify them very well thankyou during the last few plagues.
It seems the people of Israel were in danger of judgement because they were just as culpable as the evil Pharaoh. Even though oppressed and downtrodden and victims of human rights violations, they too didn’t acknowledge God and in fact, scorned God’s words and God’s servant Moses. The blood on the doorframes was a sign not for God but for the people of Israel themselves – God was giving them a way both to repent and to be saved. If the crime was not to trust God, then the painting of blood etc would be a demonstration of their trust – that they believed he was coming to judge and that they believed that just by obeying his words, they would be saved from this judgement.
So it is the same with Jesus:
God so love the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but shall have eternal life (John 3:16)
But if the blood of the lamb could do, then why did Jesus have to die? Well, seriously, how can the blood of lambs, and later, bulls and goats, actually pay for one’s sins? So the writer of Hebrews reasons:
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, my God.’”
First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:1-10)
What can be more fantastic than this? Can we not help but rejoice?