Friday, March 25, 2005

Good Friday Prayer Blogging

Today is Good Friday, a name that initially puzzles many long time Christians. What is so "good" about the day when Jesus was crucified?

45 From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi,[c] lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[d]
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He's calling Elijah.”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him.”
50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52 The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.
54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son[e] of God!”
55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's sons.

Obviously the easy answer is that what is "good" is that Jesus died for our sins and that cleansing allows us to spend eternity with God. Certainly nothing wrong with that answer either.

But in the interest of a focus for our prayers today, I see something else very "good" in this passage. In verses 47 and 48 there is a clear misunderstanding of what Jesus was saying and likely what Jesus was even doing at that time. Yet by verse 54 it is cleared up and the real truth is recognized and exclaimed.

This Easter weekend is often misunderstood. Sometimes in the obvious ways of focusing on colored eggs, candy, bunnies, and the antithesis of all food - Peeps. It's also often misunderstood in other significant ways - it's one of the two annual 'required' Sundays for attendance by those of the lukewarm faith, it's a time to focus on sins, it's a time to focus on death, it's a time to focus on the abuse and torture given to Jesus (especially in light of the Passion film), etc.

For today's prayer, let's focus on two simple truths about Easter:

1) God loved ALL of us so much that He sent His one and only son to earth to be a sacrifice for ALL of our sins.
2) Jesus conquered death and rose again to life and is alive today, rejoicing with all who proclaim Him as Lord and Savior.

I believe if we stay focused on those two things, we see the real meaning and focus of Easter - and we also can share that with all we encounter. God bless you all on this fabulous weekend!