Reflections for Good Friday

Fully God and fully human, Jesus made a decision. He chose to die on the cross. That’s how much He loves you.

By Eric Metaxas Published on April 3, 2015

ERIC METAXAS (Breakpoint Radio) — Sometimes, you hear something that sticks with you for the rest of your life.  That “something” may be no more than a sentence, but it has such a profound impact that your life can be divided into two parts: before you heard that “something” and afterwards.

Well, that’s what happened to a colleague of mine here at BreakPoint. He was taking a class on the Epistle to the Hebrews nearly thirty years ago when the teacher, a wise and holy man, quoted the seventh-century theologian Maximus the Confessor.

The eleven words that changed everything were, “We are saved by the human decision of a divine person.”

The Son of God who, as Paul told the Galatians, “loved me and gave himself for me,” had a human will just like yours and mine. Think about that. That human will freely embraced the act of love by which he died and restored us to fellowship with his Father and with each other.

Most reflection on the events of the first Good Friday center on — to borrow some terms from journalism — the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “why” of Jesus’ death. But reflecting on the human decision that saved us requires reflecting on the “how.”

By “how” I don’t only mean an exploration of the physical agony that Jesus endured; I also mean how he fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy about the Suffering Servant, “The Lord God is my help, Therefore I am not disgraced; Therefore I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

As the Gospel of John tells us, Jesus set his face like flint because He loved us. What theologians call the “Book of Glory,” John chapters 13-20, begins what may be the most moving words in scripture, “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.”

“He loved them to the end.” You could spend a lifetime contemplating the meaning of those six words but one thing would be clear: there was nothing passive about our Passover. Jesus was, as Peter told the crowd on Pentecost, “delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,” but it was a plan he freely accepted.

This acceptance permeated all of Jesus’ actions, even where he walked. In John 15, we are told that after the Last Supper, “Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden.”

While the other gospels omit this geographical detail — Jesus couldn’t have gotten from the upper room to Gethsemane without crossing the Kidron valley — John includes it by way of reinforcing Jesus’ words about laying down his life of his own accord.

It’s an allusion to David’s fleeing from his son, Absalom. Thus, while David crossed the Kidron valley to escape death, David’s greater son crossed it as part of his laying down his life.

Having crossed it, as Hebrews tells us, Jesus “offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save him from death.” All of these were the acts of a human will. As was “still, not my will but yours be done.”

In the end, as the events of the following Sunday show, He was not put to shame. Instead, that human decision made him the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey him by loving their brothers to the end.

So today, I urge you to find the time to contemplate Jesus’ sacrifice of love for us. And on behalf of the BreakPoint team, I wish you and your loved ones a holy and joyous Easter.

 

Originally published on Breakpoint.org: BreakPoint Commentaries, April 3, 2015

Re-published with permission of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview

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