Good Friday, The penultimate moment in the church calendar. The key that unlocks the very purpose behind the entry, of God himself through the legitimate path; taking upon himself human flesh; a vulnerable child. Fully human; with the ability to be afflicted with pain, emotions and all of the natural temptations that can afflect us in every day life. Yet, at the same time, Wholly divine; entirely God and man as one; theologians refer to it as hypostasis.
This is the day we remember one of the most horrific acts of violence ever committed upon a human being. Jesus of Nazareth, an innocent man, brought before the Roman Procurator in Jerusalem by the High Priest and the leaders of the Temple on a range of trumped up charges; all because Jesus challenged thew fact that they had reduced the covenant of Abraham and the Law of Moses to dead religion.
So, if that is the facts behind the memory of Good Friday, why do we call it good? Surely it should be Sad, or Bad, or something similar?
When I was going through Bible college in the 80s I remember a particular sermon that we all became familiar with. “It’s Friday! But, Sunday’s a Commin’!” is the catchcry that has helped many a beleagured minister press on. It is that reminder that Good Friday does not stand alone. That, although immensely significant, without Resurrection Sunday it would b e nothing more than a memorial day to a dead prophet, by a dead religion. It is Resurrection Sunday that cements the significance of Good Friday into the psyche of Christendom.
I finally got to meet the man behind the sermon, Dr Tony Campolo, the weekend before we started Open Arms Fellowship and it was a pleasure to spend some quality time with both Tony and his equally talented wife Peggy, as we talked about the wonderful thing that the Lord was doing in establishing this ministry. It was a vote of confidence and encouragement that I appreciate the Lord sending me. I feel extremely privilleged to have been able to maintain correspondence with them since then.
The marriage of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, as important as it is, does not fulfill the search for an answer to the reason for referring to it as “Good.” But a reminder that with the death of Jesus Christ on Calvary came the end of the hold, the terror that Death itself held over those who choose to follow Christ. I have heard it described as “The day that Death died.”
Good Friday provides us with an opportunity to look at what was really happening on that tree atop Golgotha 2000 years ago. In Galatians Paul emphasises the relationship of the crucifixion to the prophecies concerning the need for a Messiah. In particular he talks about the Redepmtion of humanity from the Curse of the Law; which no human being could, with their ‘sin nature’, keep, in its entirety and thereby failing the whole Law. He emphasises that the Curses outlined in Deuteronomy 28:14-68 were threefold: Poverty, Sickness and Spiritual Death; all of which the action of Christ’s sacrifice remitted through the power of his blood. The purpose of which is to make the promised blessings to Abraham available to all.
The promise to the “Seed of Abraham” Gal 3:14 was and is prosperity at all levels of our existence. The total Salvation (Soteria), provided to free ALL humanity from the sting of death is prosperity of the highest order. It provides a New Birth from the clutches of Spiritual Death.
In 3John 1:2 The disciple John, the beloved disciple prays, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit that: “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in every way and [that your body] may keep well, even as [I know] your soul keeps well and prospers.” If anyone would know whether Jesus taught a message of poverty, rather than the Gospel of true prosperity, I believe that it would be this disciple.
In fact, by studying this verse the context of the prosperity message is outlined clearly. The Key is that he desires that we prosper “EVEN AS” or, in direct proportion to, the prosperity of our soul (the mind, the will and the emotions). This can ONLY occur as our minds are renewed, as Paul tells us, by the washing of the water of the “Word of God.” Ephesians 4:23.
All of the promises to both Abraham, and clarified in the list prepared by Moses, outline the prosperity of the Body; the ability to walk in divine health as the third dimension. This runs contrary to the notion that God can get glory out of sickness and disease. Interestingly, the same people who proclaim this on a Sunday are usually the first in line to see the doctor on Monday morning.
Sadly, the greatest critics of “The Prosperity Gospel,” as it is often venomously referred to are those who either believe they are poor, financially. Or, are very aware of their own “Love of Money,” or lust thereof. Often combined with this is a ‘religious’ education based around a belief and misguided teaching that Jesus was poor and that he taught that his followers should be poor. This then gets distilled into a belief that the servants of God should be poor; should only ever be satisfied with second-best; or should settle for whatever scraps that might be left over.
I once spent time living in a monastery with a group of very impressionable young men who had been taught this message to the point where they were happy to receive and eat mouldy potatoes. They would scavenge the sliced meat thrown into the bins behind the supermarkets; as well as milk that had gone well past its use by date and very often off. All of this was because they believed it gave people a sign that they were ‘Holy’, that they were pious. Needless to say, they weren’t very well.
Yes, there can be and sometimes are abuses of the principles behind God’s form of prosperity for his people. But, more often than not the criticism is down to a sense of jealousy born from the self-righteousness and pride (lust) that deep-down wishes that their brand of religious theology (something I refer to as ‘Religiosity’) would allow them to be allowed to experience.
The fifth dimension of this prosperity provided by the inheritance of Abraham’s blessings is the Social prosperity that the “Covenant of Strong Friendship” provides. Those who are truly members of the Body of Christ realise that as ‘members, one of another’ their relationship is closer to their family “In Christ” than that of their biological families.
The day death died; the price for Adam’s disobedience was paid. The redemption of humanity had begun. The process of Christ’s journey, from the Cross to the Throne had started. Jesus exclamation “It is Finished!” was the moment of realisation that he had been separated from the Father, He was spiritually dead and with that he gave up his spirit and died, physically.
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