Here it is, Good Friday, 2017. A day of solemn joy. Solemn as I think of the tremendous price paid by my God to ransom me from a death I deserve. To release me from a bondage to rebellion against Him. To restore me to fellowship and communion with Himself.
And He paid that price for me, for everyone, when none of us wanted it paid or even thought we needed it paid.
Joy because in paying that price on my behalf, my God has secured my fellowship with Himself, and made it possible for me to experience intimacy with Him now and forever. With the death of Jesus my hope for the best of all possible lives is secured. As it is for all who chose to commit to that life.
Good Friday also signals the start, approximately 2000 years ago, of the 53 days that changed everything. Changed the enemies of our God into potential friends (even though He has always loved humans as His friends). Changed the old covenant relationship between God and humans into a new covenant relationship of grace based upon pardon. Changed our understandings of the Kingdom of our God and the way in which our God would save His people.
The first installment of the great change came with the death of our Savior on the cross to redeem humankind from the consequences of their sin and rebellion. Sin’s penalty was paid. The power of sin was broken. Atonement was made, bringing us to the intended level of “at-one-ment” with our God. The first day of the 53.
The second installment of the great change came with the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. New life is possible because the power of death was broken. Our God demonstrated His power to save and to restore to life those who respond to Him. New life now and forever is possible. The third day of the 53.
The third installment of the great change came about 50 days later, on the day of Pentecost. Remember that our God was moving to restore us to an intimacy that would rival the face-to-face relationship humans had with Him before the rebellion. No one had any clue how magnificent the restoration would turn out to be, although many of the prophets of old wrote about its magnificence. They did not understand all they wrote, but write it they did in obedience to the prompting of God.
The magnificence of the restoration on day 53 is that the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ Himself, was given to humans. Given so that He might actually live within them and restore communion and intimacy to a new and deeper level. After so many long centuries, a weary race received a refreshing, restoring breath from heaven – the actual, living Spirit of God. Communion and intimacy are restored in a manner and to a level never dreamed of, much less imagined. Now the dwelling place of God was within humans.
God left the temple at the crucifixion, and the veil was torn in two. God relocated the temple into humans with the resurrection of Jesus. Sin and death, the two factors keeping us from the presence of our holy and eternal God, were removed. God entered His new temples, His children and followers. He succeeded in making His dwelling there among them and, amazingly, within them. The last day of the 53.
Restoration beyond any human’s wildest dreams. A change that has resounded through history, and will continue to resound for eternity.
If only it resounded in the heart and life of everyone.