March 22, 2008 § 2 Comments
Today we celebrated the death of Jesus Christ on what is known on the church calendar to be ‘Good Friday.’ By any other measure celebrating a death would seem morbid at best, and at worst, chillingly insensitive. But we celebrate – because for Christ-followers, Jesus’ death is core and decisive when it comes to the forgiveness of sins.
The sacrifices of the Old Testament were what the Apostle Paul refers to as ‘shadows’ – they reflected something, but didn’t reveal everything – because they were intended to be short-lived, temporary violences (for those who can’t find this in their dictionaries, you caught me – I made this word up!) to mollify the wrath of God for a season – but not forever. They were shadows – they were pointing to something greater – actually, someone greater – they were aiming at Jesus.
For all the wild speculations of ‘last things’ in the New Testament book of Revelation, careful inspection reveals that the centerpiece of John’s inspired writing is not so much Christ’s return, but His death:
“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” (Revelation 5:9)
Good Friday is ‘good’ because it marks the extreme to which God would go to secure our Redemption – the extent of which He would sacrifice His own Son. Participating in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (‘Communion,’ or ‘Eucharist’) is what the bible refers to as a proclamation (1 Corinthians 11) – a proclamation that serves to remind us and announce to the world Jesus’ death – ‘until he comes.’ ‘Until he comes’ we can cling to His sacrifice as one that satisfied God’s wrath toward us – once and forever. ‘Until he comes’ we can rest in the reality of the forgiveness of sin. It blows me away when I consider that this is a rest-of-my-life thing.
This morning we interred our Dad, and our Mom’s husband – Leo Khandjian. Dad was a Christ-follower of the most humble kind. God graced us with this extraordinary man. As with our Mother, Dad lived the Gospel. And we, their children, are the beneficiaries.
Words cannot really capture how precious that small service was at Arlington National Cemetery earlier today – watching Mom place her husband of 52 years into the small ‘drawer’ that will one day contain her remains as well, speaking the scriptures, witnessing her tears and the tears of my wife and our daughters, sharing the ‘moment’ with a friend who has stood beside us in this, standing in for siblings and grandchildren who were there with us, in spirit, praying together.
It was a cold, windy day, but somehow it was the good-ness of Good Friday that seemed to cut through the moment – and into our hearts. We were sad, but we weren’t afraid. Jesus had already been where Dad has recently gone – by His Resurrection He rendered the Grave to be safe for pilgrims like Dad who loved Christ and passed there in their journey towards home.
Indeed, this is Good News.