Posts Tagged ‘“Good Friday”’

That title may sound a little heretical, but think about it. Imagine telling Peter, James, John or any of the rest of the disciples that we call this day Good Friday. Not now, when they can see the ramifications of all that happened, but on that Friday so long ago, while most of them are in hiding, fearing for their lives, as their friend, teacher and Lord is hanging on a hard wooden cross. The sky had gone dark, it looks like the end of the world and then they hear we call this day Good Friday. What do you think they would think?

It had to seem like the end of their world. It was just days ago that they were jockeying for position in Jesus’ Kingdom, James and John wanting to be by His side, one on the right the other on the left, but at that moment I am sure they were really glad those positions were occupied by others. Would they be next? I’m pretty sure that day, to them seemed anything but good.

So why do we call it good? Because we have the luxury of knowing the rest of the story. Yes Jesus died. Yes it was torturous. Yes it was unspeakable but it was part of the plan. You see sin requires death and justice requires that that debt be paid. If you’ve ever sinned, even once, that penalty was yours. This Friday is good because on it, Jesus, the innocent Son of God stepped in and said, “(fill in your name here) sinned and I love (him/her) so I’ll pay (his/her) price. I’ll pay a price they could not pay and give them a reward they could not earn. Eternal life in paradise.” That’s what’s so good about Good Friday. You are loved so much that the Lord of all creation, sacrificed Himself in your place and died on the cross. Place your faith in Him and you will receive eternal life in a place far beyond your greatest dreams.

Now a lot of you reading this, already know the story. It’s our job to share it. How would you express what’s so good about Good Friday? Someone needs to hear the story today. Share it.

It’s Good Friday…

1 John 3:16 says By this we know what love is: Jesus laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.
On this Good Friday, we remember the sacrifice Jesus made for us and His call for us to love sacrificially, laying aside our plans and agendas for the sake of others, dying to self for the cause of Christ.

We’re entering the time that, for Christians, is the holiest time of the year. Today is Palm Sunday. This was the day when it seemed like it was all coming together for Jesus (to everyone but Jesus). He enters Jerusalem, riding on the colt of a donkey. This may seem cruel, big man on a little horse, but please don’t miss the symbolism. When a king came into a city looking to make war, he would ride in on a (usually white) stallion. But when a king came in peace, he would ride in on the cold of a donkey. It’s kind of hard to look threatening riding a little donkey. As he rides into the city, the people lay their cloaks on the street before Him as well as palm branches, hence the name. They are showing him the ultimate respect. “Don’t let your even animal’s hooves touch the dirty ground. Here, ride on my cloak instead.” They are shouting praise, “Hosanna,” “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” They are recognizing Him as the King that will rule forever and they are praising him.

The religious leaders tell Jesus to silence the people. They still don’t believe and most of them never will. Pride and position are keeping them from it. They know the scriptures better than most of the people. They should see what Jesus has been doing and be the ones leading the cheers. Instead they have chosen to ignore three years of evidence, signs and wonders. Pride is a terrible thing. Jesus turns to them and says “I tell you if they keep quiet the stones will cry out.” This passage inspired me to create a piece of art that I still keep in my office as a reminder. It’s a self portrait painted on a rock. The face is screaming and the message is simple, don’t let the rocks cry out for you. You praise the Lord. (You should probably make yourself one of these.)

What has always struck me about this incident is that some of those same people that are throwing down their robes and praising on Sunday, will be shouting “Crucify!” by Friday. Pride and power will win the day as the people become convinced that Jesus can’t be Lord because He won’t do what they think He should. Of course the thing we all need to keep in mind is if you think Jesus can’t be Lord because He won’t do things your way. He’s not really Lord of your Life, you are. Of course, while pride and power may have won the day on Good Friday, Jesus won the war forever on the third day.

Those people in the crowd got it wrong on Good Friday, (though, in the long run, they still played into God’s hand) but they were right on Palm Sunday. “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.”

He is Lord. Praise Him.

ccwSo here we are, rushing headlong into the Christmas season. The thing is, in creative ministry, the things we do usually take quite a bit of preparation, so by now we would be working well ahead of Christmas. To give you a taste of this, let’s plan ahead.

You see, I often tell my congregation that while Christmas is far and away the most popular holiday in our world, we must never forget that the purpose of Christmas is Good Friday and the purpose of Good Friday is Easter. The creative challenge this week is to create something you could present to share the Good Friday, Easter story. Trust me when I tell you, it will be here before you know it. 

How would you express Jesus laying down His life for you and me? How would you express the glory of His resurrection? Start brainstorming and get some things down on paper. How could your from of creativity portray the rest of (and best of)the story?

For extra credit, share your thoughts with your pastor or church leadership and try to get on the schedule to present it as part of your church’s Holy Week celebration.
Post your results in the comments or on the Facebook Page

In my presentation, Forgiven, part of the presentation is done on a most unusual cross. I keep the cross covered until it is ready to be presented. Still everyone can tell by it’s shape what it is. It’s not a plain wooden cross, nor is it a shiny golden cross. No, I call it The Cross of Sin. It’s a cross covered with stories of sin clipped from the headlines. Where I try to make most of my work beautiful, this piece is hideous. When I finish a presentation, I just add stories until it is covered again. I intend to continue using this cross until it is no longer usable. It’s got many layers of stories on it by now and it’s two sided so I can use it twice before having to recover it.

crossofsinSome might be offended by this. How could I place images of sin on an image so closely related to Jesus. Well the short answer is, I didn’t, Jesus did! Oh of course I did the actual cutting and gluing, but it was Jesus that took all the sin of the world to the cross. Every one of those people committing every one of those sins and atrocities, was someone Jesus died to save. He who knew no sin became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. In the presentation, I tell the story of the cross, while doing to my cross all the things that were done to Jesus. By the time I am done, it is a “bloody” nail pierced mess. It is a graphic depiction of what was done to our Lord as He paid the price for you and me. A price we could not pay.

I finish the presentation with Jesus final words on the cross, “It is finished.” It might shock you to know, Jesus did not speak English. He spoke a language called Aramaic and so the word we translate to “It is finished.” is the word “Tetellestai.” It does mean “It is finished.” but it has a secondary meaning. It was a word often used in the ancient market place when a transaction had been completed. The secondary meaning of Tetellestai is “Paid in Full.” That is precisely what Jesus did on the cross and when we place our faith in Him, our debt of sin is paid in full.

What a wondrous thing it is. So many people walk through this word believing that they have little or no value. It’s part of the reason our news is full of stories of sin and desperation. If only we understood the cross and the high price Jesus paid for us there. You and I were worth so much to God that He gave His only Son to set us free. That is an extremely high value and as such we should know we are highly valuable to God, the One who matters most. You are valuable, blessed and highly favored.

Believe it!

palmsundaySometimes I believe I will never understand it. The fickleness of humanity, other times I realize that I can be the same way. Good Friday really seems to bring this into focus. The painting I am sharing here is one I did a few years ago in my church for Palm Sunday. It’s the same person in two very different states of mind, divided by the palm branch. I think maybe we need a refresher on the time line.

The face on the left represents Palm Sunday. On this day Jesus had what we call the triumphal entry. Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding on a donkey’s colt. Big man on a little horse, you might think but this was symbolic. When a king entered a city looking for war, he would ride in on a stallion, when he came in peace, he would ride in on a donkey. Jesus was showing He was a king but that he came in peace and the people responded. They threw their cloaks and palm branches down on the streets for Him to ride on. It was an act of submission, “Please Jesus, be our king!” They shouted praise,”Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” All appeared to be right with the world, and Jesus was finally getting the recognition He deserved.

Five days later, on Good Friday, some of those same people would be screaming, “CRUCIFY!” Why the change? That’s right, not weeks or months, five short days produced a seismic shift. One might ask “Why?” Well the crowds were incited to be sure, and of course it was God’s will that Jesus die for the people, for us, but I want to look at the human nature side of this. What made the people turn? I think it was this simple. They began to see that Jesus was not going to do what they wanted Him to do. They didn’t want Messiah to come in peace. They wanted Him to overthrow the Romans and take over. They wanted the wealth that comes with being in charge. They wanted to rule. They wanted power and all that comes with it and if Jesus wasn’t going to deliver that, He wasn’t who they wanted. Kill Him and move on.

They were short sighted and so are we. What they could not see is He did come to overthrow. Not Rome, because He would die for them too. No He came to overthrow a much more powerful enemy, the real enemy, the one who keeps us slaves to sin. He came to give us the power of God in our lives and the eternal wealth of becoming heirs to God’s Kingdom. What they could not see is He came to give them so much more than what they wanted and what He gave would last forever. They didn’t want forever, they wanted stuff now, so they screamed “Crucify.”

Don’t fall into that trap. He never promised us an easy life in the here and now, but rather perfect eternal life when the struggles of this life are through. It’s much more valuable, but harder to see. The thing is if He can only be God if He does what you want, He’s not God, you are. We need Him to be God.

Trust Him. He will deliver. He is good. He is God.

We’re in Holy Week, the land between Palm Sunday and the Crucifixion, between “Hosannah!” and “Crucify!” As we move toward Thursday, the day the disciples gathered around the table, we have scripture to tell us some of the things that happened and yet there is still much left to the imagination. How did they feel? What did they truly understand? What were those moments of uncertainty like as they gathered around the table? Were they in denial? Were they afraid? Did they really comprehend what Jesus was telling them?

This video really from The Artist’s Bible really touched me. I wanted to share it with you as we face this time that is as much about looking forward as it is about looking back.

88Of course we know that God is the Creator of all there is, but have you ever considered that God is an illustrator? It’s true. Look at your Bible and you will see illustrations all over it. No not the pictures and icons and things that may be in there. No the illustrations are hidden in the words and today we celebrate one of his greatest.

A thousand years or more before Jesus, God set in place a sacrificial system, a system, where lambs and other animals were sacrificed for the sins of the people. Did you ever wonder why? Does God have something against the sheep? No God created them. And while I know there is that verse about how the sacrifices are a sweet savor to the Lord, I also really don’t believe it is because God loves the smell of burning sheep flesh. I think God was trying to show us a couple things.

First, He’s showing us that sin costs. The price for sin was a very valuable possession that now had to die and be rendered useless. Second, God is showing us very literally that sin kills these are both superbly illustrated in the sacrificial system, but there is something more.

These sacrifices prepared us for the ultimate sacrifice. Remember the lambs sacrificed had to be perfect, flawless, without blemish and their blood had to be shed. The Bible tells us that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. The sacrificial system was put in place to prepare us for Jesus Christ and His death on the cross, shedding His blood once and for all. Remember how John the baptist introduced Jesus. He said “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus’ death on the cross was illustrated centuries before by a loving God, so that we would be ready to receive Him. He gave us a framework by which we could understand the ultimate gift of love.

Today is Good Friday. I’ve sometimes wondered why we call it that. I’m pretty sure if you told Peter on that day that it would be called Good Friday that he may well have punched you in the face. That day would have felt like a lot of things but none of them would have been good. We call it Good Friday because we know what happened next and because we understand the significance of the moment. We understand that in part because of God’s illustration centuries before.

Be blessed on this Good Friday and live a life that illustrates God’s love to the world. Worship Painting Jesus Christ Crucified "Father Forgive Them" Worship Painting Jesus Christ Crucified "Father Forgive Them"

The Palm Sunday/Good Friday Message looking at Jesus as the hero of the greatest story ever told and exploring how we can live heroically. Follow Jesus into living a better story.

The second image for the stripes challenge may be slightly less predictable. Challenge: Stripes Part 2 Challenge: Stripes Part 2

Isaiah 53:5 says: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

Those stripes were wounds driven deep into the flesh of the Savior by a lead tipped Roman whip. The intense punishment that began what we now call Good Friday. You see before they would place a convicted person on a cross the Romans would beat him nearly to death. Such was the beginning of the price Jesus paid for up. It’s a conundrum. How could a day of such torture be called Good Friday? Surely not because it was a good thing to happen to Jesus. I’m sure the disciples saw that day as anything but good. No the goodness was on the cross. It was Jesus doing the greatest act of good a person can do. He laid down His life for you and me. See, those stripes, they were yours and mine, but he took them.

The word at the bottom of the illustration is Tetellestai. It’s the last recorded word Jesus spoke before dying on the cross. Your English Bible records the word as the phrase “it is finished.” Jesus finished the work of Salvation when he hung on the cross, but that word Tetellestai has another meaning as well. In the market place, in that day, when a purchase was complete the merchant would sometimes shout out Tetellestai and in this context the meaning of the word was another phrase, “PAID IN FULL.” That’s what Jesus did. He took the penalty for everything wrong that you, me and everyone else has done and will ever do and took it on Himself. If you place your trust in Him as your Lord and Savior, your sins are forgiven and your debt is paid in full.

Jesus paid it all.

If you’d like to know more about Jesus and what He did for you, leave a comment or better yet drop me an email at

This note is extra meaningful to me today, two days ago my friend Curt left this world. He was a guy who had a lot of struggles in this life but in spite of it all, he came to know and love Jesus. Jesus paid Curt’s price and today as I miss my friend, I know his struggles are over and he’s just beginning to enjoy the very best God has to offer.

Praise God for the stripes that heal.

If you can’t see the image above, click this link.