Topical - Good Friday(c) (In A Single Day)

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In A Single Day

Good Friday, April 18, 2003

Zechariah 3





How can we find hope in the cross on Good Friday?

Have you come here tonight weary of the world and its ways?

All week long you've been striving, barely thriving, constantly arriving, always driving, even conniving to make your way in amongst it.

          You're overwhelmed, overburdened, and underachieved in your sense of accomplishment.

          You've wrestled with sin, that dwells within, your soul and also in others.

          You've wondered what's new, you're turning quite blue, for a breath of fresh air as a contrast.

          You need some fresh view as you sit in the pew of a God of hope and encouragement.

          You've come to worship, to find peace and release, though your cross is heavy to bear.

          You know in your heart that Sunday's coming but for now you bear the agony of Good Friday rather than its joy.

          You wonder why anyone ever called it Good Friday - the day that Jesus was crucified?

          You can identify with the Psalm 22 descriptions of wormliness, scorn, insults, feelings of helplessness, poured out like a dry pitcher, bones disjointed, heart of melting wax, and mouth pasted together with spit turned to glue, being pierced through, gloated over, and divided up.

          You mourn with him in the spiritual, mental, and physical torture of being the sacrifice for sin he bore on that cross.

          You know you should be exceeding glad when he said, "It is finished," regarding his life's work

          But your work isn't done yet, and you still bear it – you are still here trying to endure.

          You know that Good Friday is inextricably linked to Easter morning.

          And yet you live so often in the downside reality of Good Friday without the overarching upside victory of the Easter resurrection to which it points.

          So just what and where is the hope and encouragement you have come to find as you worship in the house of God this Good Friday?

          What is it that can remove the sin of generations untold of those behind your inheritance of agony?

          We can turn to Eccl. 1:1-11 for a similar view of the world in which you often find yourself.

          There we find that everything goes on as it has before – that there is nothing new under the sun, a hopelessness against positive change.

          Indeed, even the scoffers in 2Pet. 3:4 retort, "Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation."

          But even the 'Teacher' in Ecclesiastes concludes that, amongst the meaningless of the world, we must be able to find meaning in God – that amidst the seemingly unchanging burden of the world's sin we must see a God who has ultimate power over it – that the way of the world is meaningless in light of God's judgment against it.

          And there is something we must understand about God.

          Indeed, he is unchanging; the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 1:12, 13:8, Ps. 102:27).

              But we must also understand, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness." (2 Peter 3:9)

              God has a plan that he has been unfolding throughout the ages, but certain elements of that plan can happen in an instant.

          It only took a day for man to fall into sin.

          It only took a day for God to bring the rain of his judgment to deal with it then in the time of Noah (Gen. 7:11).

          And it will only take a day for God to bring the rain of his judgment to deal with it soon again in the time of the Tribulation (Mt. 24:36) since no one knows the day or the hour.

          But also in a day (that same day) will be the salvation of the righteous who will be changed in the flash of a twinkling eye at the trumpet call of God (1Cor. 15:52).

          At that time, in that day, Christ will appear a second time not to bear sin but to bring salvation for those who are waiting for him (Heb. 9:28).

          So we see that just as one reads the page of a book that might take several minutes to digest and understand, it only takes a split second to turn the page.

          God turns the pages of his book of eternal revelation when he feels we have sufficiently digested the contents according to his plan.

          And so a day in the economy of God is important – it can be extremely important.

          Think about what can happen in a day ---

                   Pearl Harbor can get bombed

                   Hiroshima can get bombed

                   D-Day can happen

                   Baghdad can fall

          Or on a more personal level ---

                   You were born

                   You were married

                   You got saved

          But back to those who are waiting for Christ to appear a second time to bring the reality of the salvation they are waiting for ---

          Who are they?

          They are those who have had their day at the cross.

          They are those who have suffered the understanding of sin and its consequences and what God through Christ has done for them there.

          They are those who exclaim with Christ that it is finished and then live through the dark clouds of the cross in light of Easter morning.

          They live as the "now but not yet" people of heaven in light of the still present flesh of earth.

          Because they see God's plan they have become a part of it by faith.

          So if you still suffer the presence of sin you can be assured of its obliteration.

          Though it still pains your soul you can live in the light of God's provision of peace within, knowing that he has taken care of it – at the cross.

          You are a crossed-out Christian, but not a crossed-up Christian.

          God has not crossed you up because he has crossed out your sin and set you free.

          God has crossed out your name in hell and crossed it over to the Book of Life (Jn. 5:24).

          And he has given you your very own crossing guard in the Holy Spirit.

          We need to change the definition of being a 'cross' Christian to one who has a good, positive attitude about life and not a bad one.

          The next time someone asks you why you are so 'cross' it will be because you are so happy and not because you are so sad or mean and depressed.

          How much time is this going to take, you ask?

          According to Zech. 3, all it needs to take you is a single day.

          Even if you are already a Christian you can begin to live like one in a single day.

          You see all those commercials about how to lose a gazillion pounds in a day?

          This is all about how to lose the weight of the world in a day.

          And this is the day that the Lord hath made.

Zechariah was a prophet-priest in Judah after the exiled people returned from Babylon.

His name means "The Lord Remembers."

He was a contemporary of Haggai and had a similar purpose in getting the people to rebuild the temple.

But not to be discounted was his overarching purpose of inspiring spiritual renewal and giving hope and encouragement.

And these were the things that would give the people the will and the energy to complete God's work.

It is likewise with us today.

We need hope and encouragement to complete God's work.

That hope and encouragement comes from the assurance of the Messiah who will occupy the temple.

The book of Zechariah is very apocalyptic, eschatalogical, and messianic.

It was one of the last books written before the silent years that preceded the birth of Christ and is quite full of detailed prophecies about him.

Zechariah tells us more about the coming Messiah than any prophet except Isaiah, and he ranks next to Daniel in telling us about the future.

The book begins with a series of eight night visions that God gave to Zechariah. We will concern ourselves with the fourth one in chapter 3.

At first glance, this seems to be about Joshua, the High Priest. But since the name “Jesus” is the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew “Joshua” (meaning “The Lord Saves”) the parallel is hard to escape. Since the vision is yet future, it speaks to us about the work of God on our behalf through the coming Messiah.

Follow along as we look deeper into this passage:

I.       We can find hope in the cross of Christ on Good Friday because God is our defender. (vv. 1-2)


II.      We can find hope in the cross of Christ on Good Friday because God is our cleanser. (vv. 3-5)

III.     We can find hope in the cross of Christ on Good Friday because God is our master. (vv. 6-7)

IV.     We can find hope in the cross of Christ on Good Friday because God is our Savior. (vv. 8-9)

V.      We can find hope in the cross of Christ on Good Friday because God is our peace.     (v. 10)


          Ever since that Passover Friday about 2,000 years ago, the cross has become our symbol of hope, because from it, in a single day, God accepted an everlasting sacrifice, a perfect Lamb, through which our sins might be forgiven.

Even though it is a day of mourning because our sins cost the death of God’s Son, we have come to know it as Good Friday because of what it accomplished for us through the grace of God given to all who repent of sin and confess allegiance to the lordship of God’s Son in their lives by faith.

          This is the day that the Lord has made for us at Christ's expense, so let us soberly receive it. In a sense, we must never leave the foot of the cross, because its sacrifice demands our continuing devotion, and our sins require its continuing forgiveness. Even so, Good Friday must always abide in the shadow of Easter morning.

“ But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9 NIVUS)

 “ and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father— to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Revelation 1:6 NIVUS)

 “ You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."” (Revelation 5:10 NIVUS)

 “ One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.  The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it."  Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil."” (Job 1:6-8 NIVUS)

 “ And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” (Revelation 21:10 NIVUS)

 “ So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world.” (Galatians 4:3 NIVUS)

 “ snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear— hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 1:23 NIVUS)

 “ He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” (Revelation 3:5 NIVUS)

 “ You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” (Galatians 3:26 NIVUS)

 “ Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 NIVUS)

 “ the fine robes and the capes and cloaks, the purses” (Isaiah 3:22 NIVUS)

 “ "Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal: HOLY TO THE LORD.  Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban.” (Exodus 28:36-37 NIVUS)

 “ Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” (Revelation 5:6 NIVUS)

 “ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Colossians 2:3 NIVUS)

 “ A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.  The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—” (Isaiah 11:1-2 NIVUS)

 “ For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,"  and, "A stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message— which is also what they were destined for.” (1 Peter 2:6-8 NIVUS)

 “ And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.  And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."” (Romans 11:26-27 NIVUS)

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