Updated: Apr 15, 2022
Easter, for many, is a favorite holiday (Holy Day). We have family surrounding us on that Sunday, children hunting for eggs and hoping they are chocolate, pastel dresses and ribbons flowing on the same gentle breeze as a child’s laughter, fresh green grasses that spring sweet white lilies, and a traditional meal in which we celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection together. Others only have memories of these celebrations and mourn the callous fact of being alone on a day that seems to be reserved only for those surrounded by loved ones. No matter which category you assume, the real Holy Day celebration of Easter is much larger than either category, as are the Christian concepts of what constitutes “family” and “joy”.
Good Friday is GOOD for everyone. It is a day Jesus actively paid the price so that everyone who believes upon Him is: 1) in the family of God, and 2) has the same access to eternal JOY.
1 Peter 3:18-4:2 (AMPC) tells the reason for the Good Friday story quite well…
18 For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit,
19 In which He went and preached to the spirits in prison,
20 [The souls of those] who long before in the days of Noah had been disobedient, when God’s patience waited during the building of the ark in which a few [people], actually eight in number, were saved through water.
21 And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
22 [And He] has now entered into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with [all] angels and authorities and powers made subservient to Him.
4:1 So, since Christ suffered in the flesh for us, for you, arm yourselves with the same thought and purpose [patiently to suffer rather than fail to please God]. For whoever has suffered in the flesh [having the mind of Christ] is done with [intentional] sin [has stopped pleasing himself and the world, and pleases God],
2 So that he can no longer spend the rest of his natural life living by [his] human appetites and desires, but [he lives] for what God wills.
Let’s notice a few beautiful things here…
Christ chose to go through the agony of the cross for all human failures, all of them (v. 18). He did this once, forever (apax), because He alone, being the Son of God, could do such a thing. (“Aloneness” means “specialness” or “uniqueness” and it holds true for you today.) He put to death the flesh in exchange for the Spirit of God, in essence, giving you God’s Spirit and the consequent “aliveness forever” nature of it so you no longer have to mourn the sins of the fallen world. You can let them all go…
Verse 19 tells us He made especial proclamation to those standing guard or keeping watch [some translations, "in prison"] (phulasso). The timeless-oriented thought processes of God incorporated YOU, back then, taking consideration to include the saints keeping vigil on earth right now, bound in some type of worldly situation, not quite yet in Heaven, but standing guard, witnessing/watching faithfully, and, yes, suffering in some aspect, waiting on the ultimate Family reunion. Christ, back then, was thinking of YOU, now.
Verse 20 unites all believers to the great flood baptism in which Noah, one of the eight, rose again and refilled the earth. How FEW and FEABLE, and how MANY and MIGHTY when placed in God’s use! In essence, all believers will be brought under the feeling of being overwhelmed in sorrow, but will rise up again to greatness (as Christ did Easter Sunday)—both here, in this world, and in Heaven. Noah’s story tells us: believe God, keep working according to that belief, give God some TIME—it will happen!
Verse 21 (NASB Lexicon), states, “Corresponding to that [great] baptism [of Noah’s] NOW SAVES YOU, in an appeal to God for a good conscience through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” Good Friday is the outward expression of your personal sin—the pain of that sin emerges through the person and body of the One Who came to Save you. It is hard for us to watch Christ’s crucifixion on recreated film—think what it would have been like to be Mary watching it in real life! Put yourself in a mother’s shoes, listen to the sounds, imagine standing next to the killers. This enormous pain was performed publicly SO THAT YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SUFFER IT privately any longer. From the prison of this pain (guilt, shame, sorrow, loneliness, tears, regret) you are FREED. There are no bars on you. Jesus went through Friday under the pure-hearted expectation that you would accept His offer of sacrifice and walk out of your jail. Please do. He took your personal pain so you could have the Joy—right here and now. Remember our Easter “categories”? Those with, those without? There are no categories in Christ, no labels. You are equally loved, equally freed. Simply, trust God enough to change your mind.
Verse 22 tells us Jesus is at the right side (KJV) or the right hand of God, earning right placement, rightness, righteousness, defending your rights against the enemy—Justice for the unjust. He alone has the power and the authority to manage your case, to guarantee that you overcome any grievance you have ever suffered or endured in this place. But it’s not fair…is something Jesus already heard and corrected.
In 4:1, Peter explains the reason for our suffering: to identify with Christ up to the point we can no longer bear it, so that we put sin down. The nature of sin is its heaviness, which increases in our perceptual experience until we have the choice of letting it consume us and crush our dreams, OR we accept Christ’s offer on Good Friday. These are the choices. Excessive sorrow means the soul is full of unnatural weight. Good Friday cleanses your soul, so you now have a clean conscience, clearly standing on God’s right side. You can rest! This is the difference between prolonged grief or true joy. There are no other avenues. Christ is the pivot point. If you lack peace, if you are crying too often, sit at the foot of the cross this day until Jesus ushers you through the unspeakable dark night of Saturday and into Easter’s bright and shining Sunday morning. That is what Jesus does for you! Celebrate!
When this transition of spirit happens, according to Peter’s verse 2, the unrest in your soul hushes up and relentless human desires disappear. Contentment is your new normal and ridiculous happiness floods in with the desire to please only God (not self, not man).
God knows what freedom does for a soul. We have to learn it. We need a guide! Christ offers this guidance today, through Good Friday.
So…is Good Friday really good? Yes! It is both freedom and love: the greatest gift anyone has ever offered you. Please accept it! If you have accepted Christ in the past, but your soul seems to lack the shine this holiday should bring it, it is okay to go through a refresher course with God—again and again until you have victory, again. God doesn’t punish someone for asking—God, can I have that joy I once had? He welcomes this! And it might surprise you, the second time around can be better than the first!
God bless you!
No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends. ~ John 15:13 (AMP)
And we know [with great confidence] that God [who is deeply concerned about us] causes all things to work together [as a plan] for good for those who love God, to those who are called according to His plan and purpose. ~ Romans 8:28 (AMP)
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Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMPC), Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. www.lockman.org
Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
NASB Lexicon: https://biblehub.com/lexicon/1_peter/3-18.htm