A Montrose Church Lent Devotional by Pastor Rick
Lent Day 39
Today's reading: John 18-19
Good Friday never sneaks up on us, does it? We all know it’s coming, and we’ve heard the story so many times it is as though we’ve got it all down pat. We know about Judas’ betrayal and suicide, Pilate’s mistreatment of Jesus, the blindness of the Jewish leaders, the release of Barabbas, Peter’s denial, the fear that grasped the hearts of the remaining eleven disciples, the thorns, the flogging, the mockery of a trial, the ridicule, the gambling for Jesus’ robes, the abuse of the soldiers, the crucifixion, the borrowed tomb, and the stone that sealed the tomb shut. What more is there to know?
John Newton has always helped when I think about the cross and the day we call, "Good Friday." He wrote,
In evil long I took delight, unawed by shame or fear,
Till a new object struck my sight, and stopped my wild career.
I saw One hanging on a tree, in agony and blood,
Who fixed His languid eyes on me, as near His cross I stood.
Sure, never to my latest breath, can I forget that look;
It seemed to charge me with His death, though not a word He spoke.
My conscience felt and owned the guilt, and plunged me in despair,
I saw my sins His blood had spilt, and helped to nail Him there.
Alas! I knew not what I did, but now my tears are vain;
Where shall my trembling soul be hid? For I the Lord have slain.
A second look He gave, which said, "I freely all forgive;
This blood is for thy ransom paid; I die that thou mayst live."
Thus, while His death my sin displays in all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace, it seals my pardon too.
With pleasing grief and mournful joy, my spirit now is filled;
That I should such a life destroy, yet live by Him I killed.
- John Newton, 1779
Good Friday brings me face to face with the story of God. God caused this day to happen. God was working in history through Jesus, and this day of crucifixion is at the center of that story. Good Friday brings me face to face with myself. This horrific day became the most amazing and powerful day in all history. The truth is that my sin put Jesus on the cross. The death I deserved was assigned to Jesus, and by His sacrificial self-giving I am pardoned.
I hope I never get comfortable coming to Good Friday. The desperate need of my life was confronted by the amazing grace of God on that day, and now, by Jesus, I live. I don’t even know how to process all this; I only know my life has been forever changed by this most amazing, staggering, and stunning act of unimaginable love.
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