published Friday, April 6th, 2012

Why 'Good Friday'?

In this season when the Jewish Passover feast is observed and Christians give their attention to the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, many look back to the story that is at once ancient and very present -- God's loving provision for His people.

It began before creation. It deals with the whole world -- but through people as individuals. As Adam and Eve introduced sin into the world, other individuals became the instruments for victory over it.

There was a man named Abram (later called Abraham) who lived in the city of Ur of Chaldees, on the Euphrates River, in what is modern Iraq. Out of the comfort of his home and familiar community, the Lord called him -- with a promise.

THE PROMISE

Abram was told that he would be taken to a Promised Land, that from him would come a Chosen People, and that all the world would be blessed through a Savior to be born of them.

With this promise, Abram set forth to settle in what is now Israel. His family obviously was insufficient to occupy it, for it already was the home of people of advanced culture, the Canaanites. They were numerous and had literature, science and military might. Later, they were to enjoy Iron Age accomplishments centuries ahead of Abram's descendants. But the Lord had planned for all of that.

HOW IT WORKED

One of Abram's descendants, Joseph, was sold into Egyptian slavery by his jealous brothers. But from their evil was to come good. Joseph, empowered by the Lord, was advanced in Egypt from prison to the palace, where he became prime minister to the pharaoh.

Then when famine came, as it often did in the Middle East, Joseph's family came down from Canaan to Egypt to buy grain that Joseph, with the wisdom of the Lord, had stored against such an eventuality. Instead of vengeance, Joseph showered love on his brothers, and the whole family, then numbering 70, came to Egypt to live.

At first, they lived like royalty, for Joseph was a high official. But then, as such things happen, there was a "change of administrations" in Egypt. A new pharaoh came to power.

It is possible that the pharaoh who favored Joseph was from the Hyksos -- shepherd kings of Semitic background, but that the new pharaoh was of a different, non-Semitic line. He was wary and jealous of the Semites of Joseph's family who had come to power and were becoming populous in Egypt.

So the Jewish people were turned from security to slavery.

After being hardened by 400 years of slavery and growing in number sufficiently to occupy the Promised Land, the Israelites' time came for Moses to lead the Exodus from Egypt. But the pharaoh was not ready to let his slaves go -- until a series of 10 plagues changed his mind.

PASSOVER

The last plague was the death of the firstborn in every family throughout all of Egypt -- with an exception. The Hebrew people were told to mark their door posts with the shed blood of a sacrificial lamb, and the Lord would pass over, leaving them unharmed. After this, they were freed to march to the Promised Land.

This was the beginning of the Passover feast that is still celebrated today.

THE SAVIOR

About 1,500 years later, Jesus Christ fulfilled the many Bible prophecies and was born as the promised Savior, from the Chosen People, in the Promised Land.

After a three-year ministry begun at about the age of 30, He approached the climax of His life on Earth.

He celebrated the Passover in a borrowed room, it being the custom for hospitality to be extended to any who did not have a place to observe this important feast.

Gathered with His disciples, Jesus instituted what Christians refer to as "the Last Supper." It is commemorated in Holy Communion. He said the broken bread and the wine were to recall His broken body and shed blood for the remission of sins.

It was shortly after the Passover feast when Jesus was arrested as He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane (the name means "oil press" in Greek, and the garden still has ancient trees producing olives from which oil may be pressed).

TO THE HIGH PRIEST

Jesus was arrested there and was taken from the garden on the slope of the Mount of Olives, marched down into the valley and up the hill to the house of Caiaphas, the high priest, on the southern side of Jerusalem, for the beginning of the trials that were to lead Him to the cross.

The vocal objection to Jesus' teaching was initially religious, then was changed to political. But there was also an economic motive.

There was a racket at the time whereby high priests sold concessions to money changers and purveyors of birds and other animals that could be purchased by worshippers for sacrifice at the Temple. Jesus had condemned the worldliness of the religious rulers and had driven the money changers from the Temple, threatening both the power and the pocketbooks of the religious leaders.

CROOKED TRIAL

The religious rules provided that anyone charged with violation of the religious law must be tried by day in a special room in the Temple. But Jesus was tried at night before the high priest at his home, where trial was illegal.

The law also required that trials must be on two days, to guard against the possibility an accused might be railroaded by passion. But two days did not elapse between Jesus' arrest and final condemnation.

Furthermore, trials were illegal on feast days and on the Sabbath. The feast of the Passover had just been celebrated and the Sabbath was at hand, not allowing two days for legal trial.

It also was required by religious law that a written record be kept of the proceedings, but writing was considered to be "work" that was prohibited on holy days, and so no record could have been kept, violating the law.

The original charge against Jesus was "blasphemy," in that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. Using false witnesses, with the condemnation being illegally unanimous (the law required a split vote as assurance against "lynching"), Jesus was convicted in the illegal trial.

TO PILATE

But the alleged religious offense charged by the Sanhedrin did not carry a death penalty. That could be imposed only by the Roman overlords, who had no law against blasphemy. So Jesus then was taken before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, and the charge was changed to sedition, attempting to overthrow the Roman government. That offense did provide for execution upon conviction.

Pilate examined Jesus, Who made it clear His kingdom was spiritual, not a political movement, and Pilate knew He was not guilty. So he sent Jesus before the puppet governor of Galilee, Herod, who mocked Jesus and sent Him back to Pilate.

Pilate tried to dodge the issue. He pointed out that it was the custom to release some noted prisoner as a sign of mercy in holiday periods. There was a murderer named Barabbas. Should Pilate release Jesus and hold Barabbas?

But the people, incited to be against Jesus, shouted that Barabbas should be released. Then what should be done with Christ? "Crucify Him!" they shouted.

Pilate couldn't stand up to the mob. After all, Roman rulers in captured territories were called home from their posts if there was too much strife in the streets. Pilate was willing to do the wrong thing to keep from angering the mob.

So Pilate washed his hands as though to absolve himself of blame, and surrendered Jesus to the mob with permission that He be crucified.

WHO'S RESPONSIBLE

But who really caused Jesus' death? Does the responsibility lie with the mob, or with Pilate, or with both? The Bible teaches that the sins of all people crucified Jesus Christ: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" to pay the price of all sins for all who accept this gift through faith.

Innocent but condemned, Jesus Christ was whipped, crowned with thorns and taken out of the city of Jerusalem, to a hill called Calvary, or Golgotha, "place of the skull." There He was crucified on a cross between two thieves.

He hung there in pain and anguish, nails in His hands and feet, a spear wound in His side, thorn marks on His head -- and the sins of all the world bearing down on Him. And He died.

GOOD?

So how did this come to be known as "Good Friday"?

It was not the end of the story. Out of the evil of men came the good of God in providing forgiveness for sins and life eternal. It was proved by the bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb, His appearance to many on Earth and then His Ascension into heaven.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Thus eternal life with the Lord has been assured for all who accept the Savior, Who came from a Chosen People in the Promised Land, making Good Friday "good," indeed.

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EaTn said...

Luke 11:40 "You foolish people! Did not the one who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But now as for what is inside you—be generous to the poor, and everything will be clean for you."

April 6, 2012 at 6:57 a.m.
Livn4life said...

EaTn, I guess Jesus was talking to the government, "You foolish people." It has never been the government doing the church's job. But nowadays it is in vogue. Any time in history this has started out as seemingly the proper way, it has ended badly. But we think we know better. The state, the perspective of this world and the Kingdom of God are Always in conflict. My gripe is for the church to step up and do its job and I am an insider.

April 6, 2012 at 9:58 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

If/when Christians ever come to their senses, drop their fear of death long enough to look at life with open eyes and not pretend that some messiah is going to descend out of the heavens one day to whisk them away to an eternal heaven, then maybe they can see the Bible and the Jesus story for what it really is - a myth. There is nothing wrong with embracing the concept of a renewal of life, as springtime itself symbolizes, but to pretend that Christ existed as a living, breathing person and that he is somehow proof that we are going to live forever in la-la land is downright absurd and the epitome of denial.

Easter does not represent the historical or literal crucifixion and resurrection of JC. In reality, the gospel fairy tale reflects the annual crossing over (“crossification,” so to speak) of the sun through the vernal equinox. At that time the sun is "resurrected," as the day begins to become longer than the night. The pagans worshiped the sun as a god – actually their preeminent god – and to see it gaining ascendancy in the sky and ruling supreme once again, banishing the darkness of winter, was like a conquering of death to them.

Also, there were many pagan “messiahs,” virgin-born men/gods who preceded Christ and who strangely enough lived their lives in almost identical fashion to him, performing the same sort of miracles, uttering the same pearls of wisdom, being crucified on a cross or a tree, being entombed for 3 days, rising up from the dead, etc. Jesus was is/was nothing more than an amalgam of all of those myths.

Spring is a wonderful season and should be celebrated. And you Christians, if you want to believe in your literal Jesus and wait for him to float down out of the sky and usher in eternal heaven, well, fine and dandy. But keep that BS to yourselves and stop inflicting your silly beliefs on others. How long must we endure your pretentious religion that thinks itself so superior to all others, that you are the only true way to believe? Truth is not in a book or in a church or in a belief. Truth is all around us and within us and it is up to each individual to find his/her own way.

April 6, 2012 at 11:39 a.m.
lkeithlu said...

I don't have a problem with religious observances. I am curious why it is printed in this paper. What purpose does this serve?

April 6, 2012 at 11:50 a.m.
EaTn said...

The below scientific DNA study confirms that all mankind have common genetic makeup from the beginning and that man's origin happened not in several places, but at only one place in the current continent of Africa. I believe this confirms there is a master plan for for our world which is part of the universe, and that master plan was created and carried out by the master planner God.

"DNA study supports African origin of man" reference link: http://www.ctv.ca/CTVNews/SciTech/20080221/DNA_Africa_080221/

April 6, 2012 at 12:42 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

How to shut creationists up......take them to court.

The below presentation outlines exactly why the I.D. supporters and lawyers made no argument in their case. The I.D. concept simply cannot hold up in court. But evolution sure does. In THIS country, you are free to believe what you want. But when you start trying to set laws for us all using your religion, you are in for a rude awakening.

April 6, 2012 at 4:33 p.m.
conservative said...

Thank you Free Press for recognizing this very important date every year along with Christmas and Thanksgiving.

For many of the lost, this may be their only opportunity to read of their need for our Savior Jesus Christ.

April 6, 2012 at 6:01 p.m.
EaTn said...

My feeling is that narrow minded creationists and narrow minded evolutionists are creating an unnecessary conflict and missing an opportunity to bridge the gap to see things from the opposite viewpoints.

April 6, 2012 at 6:44 p.m.
ginagirl43 said...

Rickaroo, how bitter and angry you sound. Sad. Wondering if you could name the other pagan Gods and Messiah's you speak of. It is your perogative to deny God and the Holy Bible, just like on judgement day He will deny you. May you find the Truth and the Way before you meet Him.

April 6, 2012 at 7:07 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

In response to ginagir43:

Osiris's "son", Horus, has the following in common with Jesus:

--Horus was born of the virgin Isis-Merion December 25 in a cave/manger and his birth was announced by a star in the East and attended by three wise men. --His earthly father was named "Seb" (Joseph). --He was of royal descent. --At 12, he was a child teacher in the Temple; at 30, he was baptized, having disappeared for 18 years. --Horus was baptized in the river Eridanus or Iarutana (Jordan) by "Anup the Baptizer" ("John the Baptist"), who was decapitated. --He had 12 disciples, two of whom were his "witnesses" and were named "Anup" and "Aan" (the two "Johns"). --He performed miracles, exorcised demons and raised El-Azarus ("El-Osiris" Lazarus in latin), from the dead. --Horus walked on water. --His personal epithet was "Iusa," the "ever-becoming son" of "Ptah," the "Father." He was thus called "Holy Child." --He delivered a "Sermon on the Mount" and his followers recounted the "Sayings of Iusa." --Horus was transfigured on the Mount. --He was crucified between two thieves, buried for three days in a tomb, and resurrected. --He was also the "Way, the Truth, the Light," "Messiah," "God's Anointed Son," "the "Son of Man," the "Good Shepherd," the "Lamb of God," the "Word made flesh," the "Word of Truth," etc. --He was "the Fisher" and was associated with the Fish ("Ichthys"), Lamb and Lion. --He came to fulfill the Law. --Horus was called "the KRST," or "Anointed One."

MITHRA OF PERSIA:

--Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25 in a cave; his birth was attended by shepherds bearing gifts. --He was considered a great traveling teacher/master. --He had 12 companions or disciples. --Mithra's followers were promised immortality. --He performed miracles. --Mithra sacrificed himself for world peace. --He was buried in a tomb and after three days rose again. --His resurrection was celebrated every year. --He was called "the Good Shepherd" and identified with both the Lamb and the Lion. --He was considered the "Way, the Truth and the Light," and the "Logos," [Word] "Redeemer," "Savior" and "Messiah." --His sacred day was Sunday, the "Lord's Day," hundreds of years before the appearance of Christ. --Mithra had his principal festival on what was later to become Easter. --His religion had a Eucharist or "Lord's Supper," at which Mithra said, "He who does not eat of my body nor drink of my blood so that he may be one with me and I with him, shall not be saved." --"His annual sacrifice is the Passover of the Magi, a symbolical atonement of pledge of moral and physical regeneration." Furthermore, the Vatican itself is built upon the papacy of Mithra, and the Christian hierarchy is nearly identical to the Mithraic version it replaced ...

... Virtually all elements of the Catholic ritual are directly taken from earlier Pagan mystery religions.

EXTRACTS FROM: "The greatest story ever sold" by Acharya S., pp 107-123

April 7, 2012 at 2:01 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

There are others: Dionysus, Romulus, Attis of Phrygia, Zoraster, and Krishna, to name a few.

I know I seem bitter and angry to you. All of you christians like to think that anyone who rejects your way of believing is bitter, angry, hard-hearted, etc. I respect anyone's deeply held spiritual beliefs but only as long as they do not presume to think that their beliefs are the ONLY true way to believe. And you christians - most of you anyway - are so judgmental and self-righteous as to think that anyone who doesn't share your beliefs is "unsaved" and going to hell. How absurd! I totally reject your small, petty, jealous, hateful god who casts people into hell based simply on how they believe. If you choose to worship a god such as that, well, so be it. But don't call him a god of love. You are worshiping a tyrant. You are a sad, deluded creature. Open your eyes and your mind. The truth will set you free.

April 7, 2012 at 2:32 a.m.
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