The Son came to earth and lived a holy and loving life. He loved his Father with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and he loved his neighbors as himself. He was the obedient son who often heard his Father say, “You are my Son, and in you I am well pleased.” He was so humble, helpful, and honorable, and what did he receive as payment for his life of perfectly loving both God and loving man?
His neighbors mocked and slandered him. Seeking his demise, they plotted and schemed behind his back. False witnesses gave testimonies and false friends gave kisses. He was arrested, illegally tried, mocked, whipped, and tortured. Then he was instructed to carry his own cross towards the place of crucifixion. There he was nailed to the cross and hoisted naked for all to see. This was the reciprocal treatment he received from the neighbors he loved.
However, this did not pain him as much as that done by his Heavenly Father. In ancient days, the Father, Son, and Spirit purposed Jesus’ humiliation and death, and it became time for the Father to play his part. The Father placed all the sins of all who would be saved upon the back of Jesus. The Father then turned his face away; this was evidenced by the earth turning dark. It was “the will of the Lord to crush him,” and crush him he did. Jesus, though being the perfectly holy neighbor and Son, was treated as devilish by men and depraved by the Father.
Why such injustice? God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit had determined to provide a perfect sacrifice for hellish men. The Three Persons of the Godhead had decided to pour out hell on Jesus that heaven might be given to those who bow the knee. This was the free gift of salvation for men, though it was not free for God. The ultimate act of self-sacrifice was shown by the Good Father and the Good Son on Good Friday in order that not-good people might be saved.
Three days later, all was made right. Gloriously, the Son opened the tomb and proved himself to be the vindacted Lamb of God risen from the grave. Triumphantly he began his exalted reign as the Risen King, never to be humiliated again.
Well, today, on this Good Friday, the Risen King has something to say to you. He wishes to encourage you. Hear his words:
And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life. “‘I know your tribulation and your poverty ( but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. (Revelation 2:8-11)
He who lived, and died, and lives, has something to say to you today.
He sees those who wish to harm you. Some of those wishing to harm you are men and others are devils. However, they all have this in common, the wish to ruin the King, his Kingdom, and all who long to see his will done on earth as it is in heaven.
He sees your tribulation and your poverty. He sees the ways in which you have already been mistreated by those opposed to the King and his Kingdom. He also sees how you have been somewhat faithful in your stand. He has no words of condemnation for you.
He sees your upcoming tribulation. He knows you are about to suffer more, and this suffering may include days of ostracism, poverty, prison, and even death.
He commands you to not forget. Yes, you may be materially struggling today, but you are rich beyond measure. All the riches of Christ belong to you. You are co-heirs with Jesus Christ. You are his friend, his brother, and his bride. As all was made right for him on the third day, so all will be made right for you upon the taking of your last breath. Your present humiliation will be swallowed up by the exaltation coming over the horizon.
He commands you not to fear. Jesus watches from above, and he prays that your faith may not fail. It is your duty to persevere, but it is his promise to preserve you. The Spirit never takes up temporary residence in the New Covenant believer. Nothing will separate you from the love of Christ — nothing in the earthly or spiritual realms. You are secure in Christ for he came to die for you.
He now calls you to carry on and endure persecution as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Like all the disciples, you too are called to drink of his cup of suffering. Therefore, be faithful unto death. Remember the way Christ lived for you until he died, and recommit yourself to being faithful to him until the day you die. You do not know what suffering God has foreordained for you today. You do not know what suffering may come from the hands of your neighbors. You know not what ill the devil begs to pour out upon you. However, know this, Jesus is watching, he is interceding, he is governing, and he has sent his Spirit to enable you to say “No” to the numerous temptations to compromise in this present day. The Spirit dwells within, and he is the one empowers you to say “Yes” to worshiping God and loving your neighbors.
You serve a Savior who lived for you.
You serve a Savior who died for you.
You serve a Savior who is risen and ever lives for you.
On this Good Friday, let’s give our Risen King good worship, and do good. May our song today be, “I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back; no turning back.”