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Good Friday Testimony-message.

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2010-03-02 (am) Good Friday Testimony/message.

            Today is Good Friday.  Have you ever wondered why this day is called Good Friday?  What’s good about remembering an execution?  Maybe the whole Easter Bunny thing is just a cover-up, “Look, this whole crucifixion thing makes me nervous, let’s talk about something else, okay?  Like what?  I don’t know some colourful bunny who lays chocolate eggs, and hides them for children to find!  Dude, what’ve you been smokin’?

          But seriously, it is important to talk about why Good Friday, today, is good.

          Here’s the situation.  Life is hard. 

          Have you ever noticed that all of the world’s promises always fail to deliver?  Have all the appliances of the home actually resulted in more leisure time?  Have computers allowed us to shorten our workdays?  If anything, we’re way busier than ever.  Michael Creighton in his book, Timeline says the average hunter-gatherer spent 20 hours a week providing for his family.  20 hours per week was all that was necessary to feed, clothe and shelter his family.

          How much are you working?  Is it working?  Are you getting satisfaction?

          How much pressure are you under?  How do you feel about yourself?  Do you feel pretty good?  Do you feel you’re in control?  Do feel like you measure up?

          Well, I guess it all depends on who you compare yourself to, doesn’t it?  If you compare yourself to those around you, you come out pretty good, don’t you?  Sure, there are areas where the odd person might excel at something you don’t.  But all in all, compared to most people, you’re pretty good right?

          But what if you compare yourself to Mother Theresa?  How would you stack up to her?  What if you compare yourself to Jesus?  Yeah, not a chance.  He’s perfect, and we’re well, we’re not perfect.

          Does that ever weigh on you?  Do you ever feel bogged down by failure?  Do you ever feel like you just don’t measure up?  Like, you could be a better worker, a better dad, a better husband, a better mother, a better wife?

          Last April, when I was away at school, I went through a very difficult time.  I felt useless.  I was away from my family, my church.  I was not working as hard as I thought I could at school.  I struggled. 

          It felt like God was looking down on me and he was so disappointed.  I was such a failure to him.  I’d have some good moments, and he’d be happy with me during those times, but then, after a bit, I’d mess up again, and well, so much for that.

          Have you ever felt like that?  Have you ever wondered why God might possibly choose to adopt you as his child?  Have you ever wondered how that could possibly happen?

          As I was struggling along, the Holy Spirit worked in my heart through a bunch of different things. 

          There was one song by a guy named Matt Papa that spoke God’s Word to me.  His song is based on Romans 7:14-8:1.  I’ll read the lyrics to you:

So hard I try to live this life for You.  So far I've failed You every time.  But You say, You love me anyway. 

My sin is heavy upon my soul.  My shame, it haunts me all the time. But You say.  You've taken it all away.  The things I want to do, I don't.  Things I don't want, those I do.  O wretched man that I am!  SO I FALL INTO YOUR ARMS OF LOVE.  SO I FALL INTO YOUR ARMS AGAIN
There is now no condemnation.  For those in Christ Jesus

          That’s it.  That was me, that is me.  Struggling, trying, failing, trying, failing.  Making people upset, and, I thought, making God totally frustrated and angry with me.  Who am I?  How can I do this job?  How can I be what God has called me to be?  Who will save me, from me?

          Jesus.  Jesus has saved me.  Nearly 2000 years ago, Jesus paid it all.  I was, in a sense, trying to win God’s love by my own effort.  I wanted God’s approval, I felt I didn’t have it.

          Jesus did it.  Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Php 2:6-8).

          Jesus lived the perfect life I will never live.  That’s the whole point of Christmas.  That’s the whole point of Jesus’ life on earth.  He came to live and to give his life as a ransom, as an atonement for sin-for all the wrong things humans have done before God.

          Good Friday is not just about an innocent man wrongfully tried, wrongfully convicted, hung out to die.  It was all that, and more.  It was about God placing all his wrath against sin upon the shoulders of his Son.  It was all about Jesus willingly giving up his life unto death so that those who believe in him may live, really live.

          That’s why Good Friday is called Good.  For all who believe, to all who receive Jesus, he promises his righteousness, his justification, his salvation paid in full on the cross.

          Back in Grand Rapids, that truth hit me like a load of bricks.  Wallowing in my self-pity, feeling alone, trying to justify my mediocrity by blaming it on a wrathful God, I suddenly understood, once again, what Jesus did for me.

          Because Christ fully paid for all my sin, God the Father looks on me with loving kindness.  He doesn’t see my sin, because Christ paid for it.  He sees Christ’s righteousness instead. 

          And that night, the Holy Spirit renewed my faith.  He restored my soul.  He reminded me that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  The Holy Spirit reminded me that Christ has set me free from sin.   I no longer have to be controlled or consumed by it.  It doesn’t rule my life, Christ does.

          That’s why this Friday is called Good Friday.

          But is it Good for you?  Have you come to the cross?  Have you waded through all the worldly distractions, the Easter Bunny, the chocolate, the parades, all the things that try to turn our eyes away from the Cross and from the Saviour hanging there?

          Have you come to the cross and confessed your sin?  Have you asked Jesus for forgiveness?  Have you surrendered your life to Jesus?

          If you have not done so yet, do it now.  Don’t wait.  This is the single most important thing you can do in this life. 

          Nearly 2000 years ago, in documented, historical fact, Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus God’s Son, Jesus died on a cross on a Friday, a Friday just like today.

          Three days later, on Sunday morning, God the Father raised Jesus from the dead.  Jesus appeared to many people on that day.  Jesus remained on earth for 40 days after his resurrection, appearing to many, many people.  Then Jesus ascended into heaven.

          This is what Good Friday means.  Jesus’ death satisfied God the Father’s righteous judgement against sin.  The Father was pleased with Christ’s sacrifice in our place.  The Father was pleased to place our sin on Jesus.  The Father was so pleased, that he raised him from death to life.  And The Father is pleased to raise us from death to life.

          This is how we know that Jesus is alive.  When we, moved by the Holy Spirit, place our faith in Jesus, we come alive!  Because we are alive in Christ, there is no condemnation for us!  We are free to live as God intended us to live!  We are free to live as his faithful, loving, obedient children!

          We then understand that God is not looking down on us, on me in anger, or hatred, or frustration at my, at our failures.  God is looking down on us in love, as a Father loves his children. 

          Come to the cross.  Come see why this is Good Friday.  Come, see the cross with your sin upon Christ’s shoulders.  Come hear Jesus’ promise, it is finished, it is paid in full.  Hear Jesus’ promise, “I have come so that you might really live, and enjoy life to the fullest.  Come to Jesus.  Come.  Amen.

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