Good Friday: No matter how bad we screw it up, even in his name...

Good Friday is so good because it shows that no matter how bad we screw it up, even in his name, Jesus still wins. Jesus threatened the religious leaders of his nation, and in their narcissistic views, he was threatening God himself and his chosen nation.
I call them narcissists because that's how Jesus describes them.
Matthew 23:4-7 "Instead of giving you God's Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn't think of lifting a finger to help.  Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next.  They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions,  preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called 'Doctor' and 'Reverend.' The Message
After Jesus raised a man from the dead who had lain in a tomb for four days, instead of acknowledging his deity and giving him his due worship they decide they needed to kill him, even operating in a supernatural gift of prophecy that comes from God himself.
John 12:47-53 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. "What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life. NIV 
These leaders had misrepresented God, despite being the most knowledgeable about the Scriptures. In John 5, Jesus confronts them on this,
John 5:38-40 and you do not have his message in your hearts, because you do not believe me -- the one he sent to you. "You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me so that I can give you this eternal life. 
They can't accept who their studies point to, Jesus, so they seek to kill him and remove him as the option. Jesus was not surprised, he knew this fulfilled prophecy of Isaiah 6:9-10.
Matthew 13:14-15 Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them. ESV
All sorts of wickedness was happening in opposition to Jesus, but he carried on with his mission. Jesus knew the greatest victory would come through the most horrifying defeat, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He was abandoned by the person he most invested in. God, his Father, turned away from him, Jesus asks through reciting Psalm 22 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27:46

He had tolerated harassment, twisting of his words, rumor mongering, and oppression by narcissistic religious rulers until his execution at their instigation. He lived out his preaching of turning the other cheek. He knew it would all be worth it. On this darkest day of the Christian religious calendar, we can call it good because on this day he willingly carried our sin away. But he knew the promises.
Crucifixion by Picasso 1930

Isaiah prophesied about him in the 53rd chapter. It's a short chapter, but I highlighted the key words for Good Friday.

53:1 Who would have believed what we just heard? When was the Lord’s power revealed through him? 53:2 He sprouted up like a twig before God, like a root out of parched soil; he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention, no special appearance that we should want to follow him. 53:3 He was despised and rejected by people, one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness; people hid their faces from him; he was despised, and we considered him insignificant. 53:4 But he lifted up our illnesses, he carried our pain; even though we thought he was being punished, attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done. 53:5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds, crushed because of our sins; he endured punishment that made us well; because of his wounds we have been healed. 53:6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path, but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him. 53:7 He was treated harshly and afflicted, but he did not even open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth. 53:8 He was led away after an unjust trial – but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded. 53:9 They intended to bury him with criminals, but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb, because he had committed no violent deeds, nor had he spoken deceitfully. 53:10 Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him. 53:11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work, he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done. “My servant will acquit many, for he carried their sins. 53:12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes, he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful, because he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the rebels, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.” NET
St. Paul rehearses this prophecy of Isaiah's from hindsight in the modified form of an early Christian hymn.

Philippians 2:5-11 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant,being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This looks pretty old and I like that the bull angel looks like he is smiling, found here.

God's plan is never frustrated despite our best efforts, despite the devil's efforts, despite the efforts of those who claim to be helping Him as a means to help themselves, despite the efforts of those who really are trying to help him.

I think of God, metaphorically, as a teacher in a pre-school orphanage. Some of the three year olds are rotten, and some are nice, and some are trying to be helpful. Some in the class want to please Him and some want to please themselves. Some are beating on other kids. Some are mixing the water colors and making them all brown. But He has a plan. He'll pull the fighters apart. He'll play follow the leader with them. He'll hang high their works of art done in brown water colors. He'll put stickers on their shirts. All of them think they have the key to his heart because He loves on each of them so well. One year, he enrolls his own son to the pre-school. Coming from the teacher's home, the Son knows all about the Father's ways and His love. His dad has sent his Son to school as a role model and as an ambassador to these kids to let them know he wants to adopt them all and make them part of his family, so they can come home with him after school, and not have to stay in the orphanage. But some kids have become masters in the orphanage. They don't want to lose what they built, despite it exists in a foul orphanage run by a cruel manager. They decide they need to shut the Son up and beat him up badly. But the Father brings him home and heals him and brings his Son back to school, to prove how loving he is as a Father.

This orphanage is not our home.


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