‘Good’ Friday

‘God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in Heaven back to Himself through Christ.’ Colossians 1:20

Carolyn Arends writes: ‘Easter Sunday is the Christian faith’s gold medal victory lap… the Happily Ever After… But I dread Good Friday… images of torture and suffering… the terrible recollected cry, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Left to my own devices, I’d probably skip Good Friday. But… if I did, Easter morning would become increasingly hollow. I’d forget how much my salvation cost… I’d start to believe that you can have victory without sacrifice… I’d buy the lie that Christ’s… victory over death—and my decision to follow him—means life will be trouble-free… The Biblical writers… encourage us to consider suffering… an opportunity to identify with Christ… to take up His cross. Yet… when the job is lost, or the tumour is malignant, or the friendship is betrayed, we grieve not only the wound but also the fact that we can be wounded. We feel… Jesus has let us down. We don’t consider it “pure joy”… So how do we become Easter Sunday Christians? When I’m expecting Easter Sunday and I get Good Friday… [I try] to remember that God’s definition of “good”… far exceeds my own… that almost all the new beginnings… have come from what felt… like terrible endings… What seems like a small (but devastating) death is actually a chance at new life.’

If you’re struggling to see the ‘good’ in your present situation, think about this: ‘Life from nothing began through Him, and life from the dead began through Him, and He is, therefore, justly called the Lord of all… through Him God planned to reconcile… everything on earth and everything in Heaven by virtue of the sacrifice of the cross.’ (Colossians 1:18–20 PHPS)

SoulFood: Gen 22:1–18, Matt 26:69–27:50, Ps 22, Is 53

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2021

Today’s Readings

Genesis 22:1–18

22:1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, “The LORD will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided.”

15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, “By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.”

Matthew 26:69–27:50

69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71 And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72 And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death. And they bound him and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate the governor.

Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since it is blood money.” So they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field as a burial place for strangers. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” 25 And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified.

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.

32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Psalm 22

To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

22:1   My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
  O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
    and by night, but I find no rest.
  Yet you are holy,
    enthroned on the praises of Israel.
  In you our fathers trusted;
    they trusted, and you delivered them.
  To you they cried and were rescued;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
  But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
  All who see me mock me;
    they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
  “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
    let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
  Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
    you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10   On you was I cast from my birth,
    and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11   Be not far from me,
    for trouble is near,
    and there is none to help.
12   Many bulls encompass me;
    strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13   they open wide their mouths at me,
    like a ravening and roaring lion.
14   I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint;
  my heart is like wax;
    it is melted within my breast;
15   my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16   For dogs encompass me;
    a company of evildoers encircles me;
  they have pierced my hands and feet—
17   I can count all my bones—
  they stare and gloat over me;
18   they divide my garments among them,
    and for my clothing they cast lots.
19   But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
    O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20   Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dog!
21     Save me from the mouth of the lion!
  You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22   I will tell of your name to my brothers;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23   You who fear the LORD, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
    and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24   For he has not despised or abhorred
    the affliction of the afflicted,
  and he has not hidden his face from him,
    but has heard, when he cried to him.
25   From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26   The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
    May your hearts live forever!
27   All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the LORD,
  and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before you.
28   For kingship belongs to the LORD,
    and he rules over the nations.
29   All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
    before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
    even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30   Posterity shall serve him;
    it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31   they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
    that he has done it.

Isaiah 53

53:1   Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
  For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
  he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
  He was despised and rejected by men,
    a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
  and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
  Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
  yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
  But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
  upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
  All we like sheep have gone astray;
    we have turned—every one—to his own way;
  and the LORD has laid on him
    the iniquity of us all.
  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
    yet he opened not his mouth;
  like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
    and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
    so he opened not his mouth.
  By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
  that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
  And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
  although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10   Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;
  when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
  the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11   Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
  by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
12   Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
    and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
  because he poured out his soul to death
    and was numbered with the transgressors;
  yet he bore the sin of many,
    and makes intercession for the transgressors.

Fri 02 April, 2021


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