Good Friday

Easter looks different this year. We’re all aware and if you’re anything like me, you’re tired of hearing about it. Our church building may be empty, but so is the tomb. Easter may look different, but how is it the same?

We are still saved by the blood of the lamb. The atoning work of Christ’s death is still finished. Jesus is still risen. We are still one body, with many members here at Grand Avenue. We still have the privilege and responsibility to encourage one another and serve one another, even if it is from a distance. God is still good. God is still in control.

Today is Good Friday. It’s a day set aside to dwell on the death of Christ. It was brutal. It was undeserved. And yet it is the Good News.  Good News is especially sweet and treasured when there is an abundance of bad news. Imagine the joy our nation would feel if COVID-19 was mysteriously eliminated overnight. We would be able to go back into the community and resume our “normal” lives. We could visit with friends, family, and coworkers in the world instead of online. Our economy would start to pick back up and people would be able to return to their jobs. It would be very good news because its been such very bad news for so long. We’ve all been affected by it and thousands have lost their lives. We would all be overcome with joy.

What we often forget as Christians is that there is a very real and a very horrible cost to sin. The wages, or what we earn from our sin, is death. Romans 6:23 makes this clear and Scripture reveals that it’s not simply a physical death that we earn, but an eternal spiritual death as well. This death is to be totally separated from God. The wage that we earn is hell for all eternity. Church family, I encourage you to dwell on this. It’s uncomfortable, but sometimes we must embrace discomfort in order to obtain something greater. We deserve hell. We don’t deserve to be happy. We don’t deserve to have a family that loves us. We don’t deserve anything good because we are born with a sin-nature and we choose to sin daily. Ephesians 2 tells us that because of our nature, we are children of wrath. We deserve to have God’s judgement and wrath poured out on us. Next to a good and perfect God, we can never measure up; we fall short. We must be sinless in order to have a right standing before God (righteousness). We must be righteous in order to spend eternity in Heaven with God and there is no one that righteous, not even one. You could be a really good neighbor. You could have the best reputation in the community. You could have always been honest at your job. You could be obedient to your parents and loving toward your children. You could be the nicest and kindest person on planet Earth, but compared to the holiness and sinlessness of God, we are nothing. It’s pointless to compare ourselves to other people (or even other church members), when we are trying to determine if we’re good enough for Heaven. We deserve Hell because we have sinned. But God.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” ~ Ephesians 2:4-5

This is the Gospel. This is the good news. God saved us not because of anything we’ve ever done. God saved us not because we deserve it. God saved us not because we are good people. He saved us in spite of the fact that we are terrible people and enemies of God. He saved us because of the great love which he loved us with. He saved us because He is God and He loves the unlovable.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” ~ Romans 10:9-10

In light of our sinfulness and the wrath that we deserve, this is good news! We deserve Hell, but Jesus died in our place. What I want to leave you with is 1 Corinthians 5:21:

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

For our sake, God made Jesus to BE sin. He was sinless, He is God, He deserved Heaven. The wage that Jesus alone earned was a right standing before God. But for our sake, Jesus became our sin. On the cross, Jesus died a physical and spiritual death. He paid the penalty we deserved. Jesus, who is one person of the triune God, became our sin and was separated from God, which is himself. I can never understand all the details of how it happened, and neither can you. But God the Son cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” God the Father poured out all the wrath and punishment that we deserve upon Jesus. He died so that we may have life. We are given Christ’s righteousness because he became our sinfulness. We are made right before God and our sins are no longer counted against us because Jesus paid it all. “It is finished.”

I don’t think we will wake up to a COVID-19-free world tomorrow, but we have a far better reason to be full of joy. We can rejoice in knowing that if we confess that Jesus is Lord, and if we believe in our heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, we will be saved, and we will repent from our sin. We are saved from the punishment of our sin and we are saved to an eternity with God. We are saved from death and we are saved to life. We are saved from being enemies of God and we are saved to being adopted into His family. We are saved from be separated from God forever and we are saved to have an everlasting relationship with God.