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Why is Friday so Good?

The origin of the term Good Friday is not clear if you check a couple of search engines. The “good” derives from German Gottes Freitag or Gute Freitag. While some believe this refers to God’s Friday, others disagree. Anglo Saxons coined the phrase “Long Friday,” as the Bible suggests Jesus stayed up all night without sleeping prior to his crucifixion.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn,” Zechariah 12:10.

In all my years as a Christian, I have only attended one Good Friday service as a senior in college. The service was based upon the passage above, a somber message exclaiming that our spiritual leader is dead. Pastor Paul commented that “I guess we can still get together from time to time, but our Savior is gone.” There are a few verses that suggest the remaining disciples went into hiding, afraid that they too may be arrested and crucified. Thus, Good Friday seems like an oxymoron as all spiritual hope died with Jesus.

For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death]. 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vanquished forever), 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

To comprehend the meaning of Good Friday, you have to scan Old Testament prophecies beginning in Genesis 3:15. As a famous pastor once stated, “Jesus died on Friday, but Sunday is a coming.” While the joy for life was sucked out of Jesus’ followers during a 48 hour period, a resurrection ignited a movement which has survived for nearly 2000 years. Thus, this Friday is deemed good as Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. Easter Sunday is great as death was swallowed up in victory the moment Jesus rose from the grave. That is why this day is known as Good Friday.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Smarter Than a Pharisee?

Producer Mark Burnett teamed up with host Jeff Foxworthy in 2007 for the game show which challenged adults through the knowledge of kids.  Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader began on Fox and is now in syndication.  Like the classic Jeopardy, this entertaining show allowed viewers to see if they are dumber or smarter than the average 5th grade student.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.  “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” – John 3:3-4

If television existed at the turn of the first century, perhaps Are You Smarter Than a Pharisee would have a caught on.  The first contestant approached Jesus at night, afraid of what his friends might think if seen interacting with Jesus.  Thus, in the cover of darkness, Jesus introduces Nicodemus to the concept of becoming born again.  Similar to the early rounds in Foxworthy’s show, the first few questions are suppose to be softballs.  Unfortunately, Nicodemus over thought this one, responding like a pre-schooler.

No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions, Matthew 22:46.

Shortly before Good Friday, religious leaders attempted to trick Jesus, hoping to catch him contradicting one of God’s laws.  Thus, one by one, shrewd individuals threw out brain teasers for Jesus to answer.  To their surprise, Jesus made quick work of various theoretical situations.  Finally, his opponents gave up, walking away in disappointment.  Unfortunately, few people understand the concept of wise, 1 Corinthians 2:5.  If this blog finds you like Nicodemus over analyzing life, may faith in Christ put you over the top so you will become smarter than a Pharisee.

by Jay Mankus

A Day Inside the Praetorium

From time to time, people will pass by notorious places.  Sometimes flying over in the air, viewing while using mass transit or stopping in person to visit.  Welcome centers, videos playing on a loop and signs will communication important landmarks.  However, nothing can truly tell the whole story of what happened one fateful day inside the Praetorium.

Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him, Mark 15:19.

The Praetorium depicted in the Bible is where the magistrates, Roman leaders met to do official business.  After being arrested by soldiers, Jesus was led into this palace where a bad day gradually got worse.  Jesus was mocked, spit on, punched out and impaled by a crown with 2″ long thorns.  After the commotion concluded, Jesus was led out into the streets of Jerusalem holding the cross He would die upon.

In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood, Hebrews 12:4.

Reading this portion of the Bible again gives me a different perspective when I’m having a bad day.  Sure, disappointment, heartache and pain is a hard pill to swallow, yet nothing compares to the fate Jesus endured.  Thus, the next time you think you’re life is a wreck, remember this selfless act on the cross.  Although Good Friday began at the Praetorium, new life was made possible 3 days later through the resurrection.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Should the Cross Be Vacated or Kept as a Reminder?

The author of the Old Rugged Cross went through his own trying experience prior to completing this classic hymn.  In the midst of despair, George Bernard reflected on the pain Jesus endured while on a cross that initial Good Friday.  Nearing the end of the second great awakening in America, Bernard devoted himself to Bible reading, prayer and revival services.  This journey led him to the conclusion, “the cross is the heart of the gospel message.”

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts, Deuteronomy 6:6.

One hundred and two years later, the cross has taken on many shapes and forms.  Hollywood has their Cross of Gold which inspired Michael W. Smith’s 1993 song.  Churches have stations of the cross, often highlighted by magnificent stain glass windows around the entire sanctuary.  Theologians have their own views about an empty cross, Jesus on the cross and whether or not the cross is an idol placed at the center of most altars.  All this debate makes me wonder, should the cross be vacated or kept as a reminder?

Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.   Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates, Deuteronomy 6:7-9.

When teaching the Israelites about God’s commandments, Moses recognized the need to create symbols so that people don’t forget about God.  These practices should involve things which invoke conversation, especially in the main meeting room within Christian homes.  Thus, whether you are entering, exiting or simply taking a look around, individuals should be challenged to discuss spiritual matters.  In view of this, I must admit the answer is clear regardless of what the world may think.  Despite the offensive nature of the cross and any controversy it may bring up, the Old Rugged Cross should continue to be a beacon of light and source of hope for the lost, dying and those seeking salvation.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Last Rites

No one except God knows what will be your last day, meal or words.  In the case of Jesus, I guess you can say He was born to die, causing a wide range of emotions.  As the Passion Week approached, interactions with family, friends and disciples would be his last, causing the praises of Hosanna on Palm Sunday to be replaced with “Crucify Him.”

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. – Luke 19:10

Today, when doctor’s sense the end is near, Catholics call a priest to perform last rites.  Otherwise known as the sacraments of anointing the sick, if death is expected, Penance and Communion is also offered to prepare one’s soul for the afterlife.  Once complete, family members gather around to savor the remaining moments of life together.  The closest thing that I’ve ever experienced was the day my grandfather died, holding his hand one last time before his last breath.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,” John 11:25.

While hanging from a cross on Good Friday, there were only two more things left on God’s agenda.  First, Jesus gave hope to one of two criminals hanging from an adjacent cross, offering Him the promise of paradise for his repentant words.  Second, as the oldest son, Jesus wanted to make sure Mary was in good hands, commanding John of Zebedee to watch after his mother.  Though no last rites where necessary for Jesus, a perfect man, Hebrews 4:14-16, Jesus gave up His spirit with one final comment, “it is finished!”

by Jay Mankus

Life’s Ransom

Director Ron Howard used a 1954 episode of The United States Steel Hour from the series Fearful Decision to produce the 1996 film Ransom starring Mel Gibson and Rene Russo.  Author Ed McBain’s novel King’s Ransom also influenced Howard’s portrayal of police procedure in this movie.  When a millionaire’s son is kidnapped, the ransom is set for $2 million for his safe return.

The Bible refers to another ransom in Psalm 49:7-9.  However, this amount is like the entertaining Master Card commercials, priceless.  Whether you’re rich or poor, white or blue collar, no payment is sufficient enough to receive eternal life.  Helpless, life a parent held hostage, Jesus intervenes, going to the bank called Calvary, Matthew 20:28.

The apostle Paul describes life’s ransom in Romans 6:23.  The wages, payment due for the errors, mistakes and sin you’ve committed in life is death, separated from God.  Despite your dire condition, Jesus decided to pay the ransom for your life on Good Friday, 30 AD, Romans 5:8.  Thus, the gift of God is in the mail, waiting for you to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  May the power of the Easter message come alive in your soul, resurrecting faith, hope and love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

by Jay Mankus

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