John 16:33 (MSG) Jesus answered them, “Do you finally believe? In fact, you’re about to make a run for it—saving your own skins and abandoning me. But I’m not abandoned. The Father is with me. I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”
Good Friday. It doesn’t feel like a good day. The list of to do is way too long. The amount of sleep way too small for the weekend filled with remembering the greatest day in history. But there had to be this day, the day that Jesus died for us. Releasing His Grace and His Power that would be available to us. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are important. The sacrifice is the very thing that saves us, but there is so much more to the story than His Death. However, one must be observed with the other for a perfect union to be made. Communion is not just that which signifies His Blood but there must be a breaking of the bread which is His Body, too. What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the Blood of Jesus. Today is that day… the day His Blood ran red for me. It was a messy day filled with the failures of those who promised to be with Him, to stay by His Side, and never deny Him. The ones who were committed to even “die” for him. All empty promises in the shadow of the “old rugged cross”. Why do we call such an epic failure on our part – something good? Good Friday is the day is the day that despite our inability to be who we promised that Jesus was exactly who He promised.
The responsibilities of today are overwhelming. I have a great deal to do in just a 24-hour span. I am feeling the pressure of performance yet in the quiet place of God’s Presence – I am challenged to release this heavy burden and take hold of His Grace. Maybe the clouds in my head, and heaviness of my heart are not about my inability as a person to do all the many things I want to do but it is the heaviness of the moment – Jesus died for me. If it had ended there, it would have been enough to save me. Perfect sacrifice for imperfect people. However, God had a plan. It is was for my good. It was to prosper the purpose inside of me and release my full potential. The pressure around me is pushing this out of me. Overcoming power is rising up within me. Jesus is with me. He is the One who is everything I need to conquer this day and every challenge that comes in this life.
Luke 23:44-54 (MSG) By now it was noon. The whole earth became dark, the darkness lasting three hours—a total blackout. The Temple curtain split right down the middle. Jesus called loudly, “Father, I place my life in your hands!” Then he breathed his last. When the captain there saw what happened, he honored God: “This man was innocent! A good man, and innocent!” All who had come around as spectators to watch the show, when they saw what actually happened, were overcome with grief and headed home. Those who knew Jesus well, along with the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a respectful distance and kept vigil. There was a man by the name of Joseph, a member of the Jewish High Council, a man of good heart and good character. He had not gone along with the plans and actions of the council. His hometown was the Jewish village of Arimathea. He lived in alert expectation of the kingdom of God. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Taking him down, he wrapped him in a linen shroud and placed him in a tomb chiseled into the rock, a tomb never yet used. It was the day before Sabbath, the Sabbath just about to begin.
There was a man named Joseph. The Word of God remembers him as someone who was good and had a good heart. He lived “in alert expectation of the Kingdom of God.” I like him already. He went to Pilate requesting the body of Jesus. He took him down from the cross, the broken body of our Lord, and wrapped Him carefully in linen and placed Him in a tomb. It was the day before the Sabbath. It was the day before… How many times on the brink of breakthrough do we do the same thing? Take Jesus off the Cross burying Him with our dreams and visions wrapped in the grave clothes of doubt, unmet expectation, failure, or even just plain disbelief. It is over. God, you didn’t. I failed. It’s over. Time to move on. Oh but the Sabbath is coming. The Sabbath is just about to begin. Sabbath had two purposes – rest and worship. The Lord was about to make a grand appearance. What people called the end and death of the dream was actually only the beginning and donning of miracles. It is human nature to see the physical state of our lives as reality. If our perception of Jesus goes with Him to the Cross and follows Him to the grave but gives up right there – where is the power? His Grace sufficient in His Death and Sacrifice. Enough to cover every sin I commit, fault that I have and failure that is before me. However, Jesus didn’t stay in the grave. Death had no hold. It was only the beginning.
I Corinthians 15:15-57 (MSG) God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out. This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.
On the day that Jesus died, His Lifeless Body hanging on the Cross. I wonder how overwhelmed and disappointed the people who followed Him must have felt. Fearing for their own lives – they went into hiding. Soon many would return to an ordinary life – their traditions of religion. Too often we live in the three days between His Death and Resurrection. Accepting part of the package but giving up on the Power promised on the third day when the grave was now empty. We don’t get that far as the pressures of life force us into busyness and our failures force us into hiding. Good Friday is a Good Day! Resurrection Day changed everything. Will this be the year that it marks His Triumphant Resurrection? Will this be the day that I finally take hold of the Keys to His Kingdom and begin opening all the doors and windows of my life to His Presence and Power? I call myself a Christian because I love and follow Christ. My journey didn’t end at the Cross but began there. It followed Him to the grave, but what I must do is stay there. I must stay in the dead zone called comfort and compromise but accept all the Power His Resurrection holds.
The seeds in my life will grow with faith. Trust in the Lord is what waters my potential and develops into purpose. There are two more days until Sunday – the Sabbath. Jesus died for me. Today I remember and rejoice in His Sacrifice that made a way for me. I cannot stop at the Cross. In the natural, I cannot see how in the world that I will accomplish everything on my demanding schedule in just three days. Grace is not just what saves us but empowers us. It is a busy weekend after a long week. But Sunday is coming…the Sabbath is almost here. The Lord is doing something is us that will soon be poured out of us. Our lives are becoming fully-formed and complete in Him. The Lord is enriching every area of our life and making us wealthy in every way. He is filling us with His Love and overflowing generosity to give our life away praising Him along the way. He is the Bread of Life that blesses our life making us edible. I have nothing to offer anyone even myself outside of the Christ in me. He has to live in me. I must allow Him to fill me.
John 11:21-26 (MSG) Martha said, “Master, if you’d been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will give you.” Jesus said, “Your brother will be raised up.” Martha replied, “I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time. You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe this?”
Lazarus had been dead more than three days. His family including his sisters, Martha and Mary, were mourning his passage. Jesus arrived to join them. Martha told the Lord if only you had been here…my brother would not have died. Jesus told her that he was going to be raised up. He was dismissed in her disbelief. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. For His Life to end in the natural would pay the price for our sin, but it is in the Resurrection that life begins now and the supernatural abundance of God is released. His Power is accessible by His Grace. His Grace gives us an open invitation to attend His Resurrection. Nothing meant to live can remain dead when Jesus is present. It must come to life. It cannot stay in its former state. Yet, there is a process. Jesus was in the grave for three long days. It seems that Lazarus may have endured the same process before Life called him out.
“Do you believe this?” Good question for this Good Friday. We struggle just to accept the sufficiency of God’s Grace and the totality of Christ’s Sacrifice – let alone allow it to be the dominate power in our life. Good Friday cannot just mark the death of Jesus but the death of self. I remember one night sitting at my son’s bedside in a dark hospital room. For days it seemed that he had been sleeping which given the circumstances was not a bad thing. I felt so alone in that place. The clicking and beating of monitors like a ticking clock on the wall. I put in my headphones to crank up the music and drown out the noise. Ready to dissolve in His Presence and escape overwhelming isolation so I went to YouTube. Kari Jobe was the next video loaded and the song, “Forever”. One of my favorites – I cranked it up really loud closing my eyes. It was that night that I fully experienced and fully comprehended the Power of the Resurrection. The future of the resurrection insured that our son had a place. Suddenly every boundary and barrier between heaven and earth melted to reveal a Savior who is the Resurrection and Life both now and forever. So many things were broken up in my heart that night with tears streaming down my face. “Everyone who lives believing in me will never die.”
Hebrews 11:5-6 (MSG) By an act of faith, Enoch skipped death completely. “They looked all over and couldn’t find him because God had taken him.” We know on the basis of reliable testimony that before he was taken “he pleased God.” It’s impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists and that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him.
When Jesus came back to life, He walked among the people again. But now, He was God unstoppable. His Flesh was no longer a hindrance. His Power unlimited. I wonder if that is the message of Easter. Could it be that this pressure is the response of my dying flesh? I love Easter. It is my favorite holiday. No kidding! It is the day that Jesus came to live in me. His Power made complete by grace partnered with faith. Now I can please God with the feeble offering of my life – because Christ is enough! He lives in me! He is making His Way through me so His Love will pour out of me. Now…in the land of the living. I love Enoch’s story. He walked so closely with the Lord that one day he just disappeared. God’s Glory is for us. It rose to meet us. We didn’t meet Jesus at the tomb. In fact, not a single person witnessed the Resurrection of Christ. The stone was rolled away, the grave clothes neatly folded, and the tomb empty. Jesus was gone. Where was He? Standing at the grave of our life, speaking life to us, digging up our dead dreams, and changing the reality of our life and its destination. I was not at His Grave … He was at mine.
Overcoming death to live in overwhelming grace is a process. Exchanging doubt and fear for faith and trust is a huge endeavor that must be a daily endeavor. However, need I remind you as the Lord is reminding me – His Grace is enough to release His Resurrection Power in every area of our life? Martha revealed that her faith was invested in the future. Jesus was about to release His Power right then and there. Living for forever points to the Cross and the Sacrifice of Jesus including the outpouring of His Grace. It is Good Friday! But Sunday is coming! The tomb is history. Jesus just became the history maker, earth shaker and world changer. His Power is now available today. It is our ability to establish faith and decide that His Grace and Power are for today that lead us to fulfillment. Jesus died to give us a rich and satisfying life now. Today. The process of moving from death to life took the Lord three days. It was a similar experience for Lazarus. Enoch walked so closely with the Lord that He disappeared in His Presence. I want to be that person who lives and walks by faith every day. I want to live adventurously expectant of God’s Power manifesting in my life all the time not just when He raises me in the final day. I want all that He died for me to have and rose up to give me. I must live in such expectancy. So today in the midst of overwhelming pressure, overpowering details, and a chaotic life – God resurrect me. Lord, I speak life in the Name of Jesus to every dead dream, paled vision and unclaimed promise in my life. You are the Resurrection and Power for this life not just my forever! Resurrect me Lord to live in Your Shadow and dwell deeply in Your Presence now and forevermore.
Romans 8:15-17 (MSG) This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!