Times and seasons belong to the Lord. King Solomon’s wisdom guides us that there is a time to weep and a time to laugh; there is a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time of war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Undoubtedly, this season for many people and nations has entailed weeping, mourning and varied sufferings brought about by tough economic conditions, family members suffering from chronic sicknesses, wars, among others. In the midst of the turbulent times, we must not forget that God’s love and faithfulness are unchanging towards us.
It is God’s unrelenting, unconditional love that caused Him to give His One and Only Son Jesus Christ, for the redemption of mankind (John 3:16). From what were we being redeemed? Separation from God that hindered abiding fellowship. Eternal condemnation to destruction. A life of bondage under the curse of the law. Sorrows, shame and pain. Spiritual death that blinds and deafens. The penalty of sin was paid for you and I, so that we may have eternal life- abiding fellowship with the Father, in this life and in the life to come.
John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
In this Good Friday, let us draw our encouragement and strength from what Christ accomplished for us through His life, death and resurrection. Prophet Isaiah helps us understand what Christ’s life and crucifixion entailed. The prophet vividly describes the Messiah, not as a King adorned in royal robes and crown, but as One lacking beauty and majesty; despised and rejected; a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.
Isaiah 53:2-3 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Jesus knows what it is like to be in a room and to be ignored or sidelined by many who judge by physical appearance. Jesus knows the shame of being despised and the pain or being rejected by men. He understands so well the agony of betrayal and the grief of unjust killings. No wonder His promise in sending us a Comforter, the Blessed Holy Spirit. Although He is the Great High Priest, He sympathizes with our situations and lives to make intercession for us before the Father.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are- yet was without sin.
At the Cross, Jesus took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. He knows the pain of being at the center of God’s will and yet being judged by men as being under the punishment of God, because of the gruesome sufferings that have befallen you. He knows the traumatic pain of physical torture. He identifies with the wounded and the sick.
Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. … and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
It is most humbling to know that Jesus Christ was not under coercion as He bore our pain and sorrows. Not at all! He chose to suffer and die for you and I. He chose not to open His mouth when falsely accused. He was silent, and was led like a lamb to the slaughter, yet He had the power to call down the Hosts of Heaven for His rescue. As He bore the grief, pain and shame, He had you and I in mind. His love for you and I emboldened Him to endure the cup of suffering.
There are many things happening within and without our lives. Jesus paid the price so that you will not have to bear life’s burdens on your own. In this Good Friday, He welcomes you to run to His loving arms, and to take upon yourself His yoke that is easy and His burden that is light (Matthew 11:28-29). As you celebrate Easter, remember that His grace for you is sufficient, so hold on firmly to the faith that you profess (Hebrews 4:14). Thirdly, keep abiding in fellowship with the Father, for at His throne is mercy and grace that helps us and will continue to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Lastly Brethren, I urge us by the mercies of God that we will make a prayer for the nations of the world that are facing much suffering because of war and other sociopolitical ills. Pray for the people of Ukraine, Israel, Syria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and many other nations, as the Lord lays in your heart.