The Rev. Dan Puckett: Friday was a disaster, but Sunday is comingPublished 10:46am Friday, April 2, 2010
As the week progressed, the Jewish religious leaders had plotted against this seeming upstart Jesus and were adding the finishing touches to the apparent end of His life and ministry.
Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, and after some clever legal maneuvering, the stage was set for the Roman army to put Jesus to death. The early morning trial, the condemnation, the journey to the place of execution, and now, Jesus Christ, the son of God, was hanging on a wooden cross, nails in his hands and feet, with his life blood dripping from numerous wounds.
In the middle of the afternoon, Jesus Christ died. Jesus said, as recorded in John 9:30, “‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
Nothing seemed more final than death. The followers of Jesus dispatched quickly and hid themselves lest the authorities annihilate them also.
Jesus had predicted all these events. In Matthew 16:21, weeks before the crucifixion, we read, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
There was eternal and strategic significance to the death of Jesus Christ. You may recall that the sin problem was introduced by Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. God had always had a plan to deal with the penalty of sin and to redeem mankind. But no follower of Christ, Jewish religious leader, or Roman citizen had any idea that the cross of Christ was indeed the instrument of salvation and life to all who would believe. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” the real message was that the sin debt was paid.
The body of Jesus Christ was removed from the cross and hurriedly placed in a borrowed tomb. No disciple established a “resurrection watch.” Matter of fact, they made ready the final burial preparations. When they came to the tomb to finish the work, the tomb was empty. Jesus was risen from the dead.
In the days and weeks ahead, the followers of Christ learned the significance of the empty tomb. Not only was the sin debt fully paid, now there was resurrection power for living. This was good news and needed to be spread. No more would guilt and shame crush the human spirit. There was forgiveness, there was salvation, and there was new life.
From every human perspective, Friday was a disaster; but, from God’s perspective, a new day had dawned and the empty tomb on Sunday morning was the crowning touch to the complete work of God to restore all things to himself.
Resurrection provided the power to live God’s way, to be like Jesus.
We know Jesus was the humble servant. Jesus did the will of his Heavenly Father. Jesus went to the cross, to death, fully confident that God the father would raise him from the dead.
We can live in resurrection power knowing that, as we are willing to die to self, God will empower our lives for his glory.
Death to selfish interests always looks like a disaster. Only God can make it glorious, as he did with Jesus Christ who died a horrible death on Friday but was raised to glorious life on Sunday.
The Rev. Dan Puckett is a minister with Life Action Ministries.