The Goodness of Good Friday

The word Gethsemane means “oil press.” In those days, when olives were gathered, they were poured into a woven bag and placed beneath a millstone. These stones, which could weigh hundreds of pounds, would press the olives into the ground, and soon they began to sweat.

A steep ravine runs down the east side of Jerusalem, and on the other side is the Mount of Olives. Some of the oldest trees in the world can be found on these slopes. From the days of Solomon, the olive oil from the Mount of Olives had been used in the temple. This particular oil was used in the lampstand, the only light left burning in the temple overnight. The everlasting light of these lampstands represented the everlasting presence of God. 

Jesus had probably prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives many times. It was a familiar place to him, a place of prayer and refuge. As David fled there for refuge when his kingdom was under siege, Jesus went there on the night he would be betrayed. In a few hours, he would go to the cross, bearing the sins of his people and facing the wrath of God. As Jesus knelt to pray that night, the weight of the sins of his people began to press him into the ground. Soon he began to sweat drops of blood. 

Every storyline of history converged in the garden that night. In hindsight, it was the second time the fate of humanity hung in the balance in a garden. Since our first parents disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, we have all lived under the dominion of death. From then on, death reigned. Humanity had been expelled from the garden and from the presence of God. 
Looking across the valley that night, Jesus would have seen the temple exalted above the surrounding landscape. He would have been intimately familiar with the sacrificial system, the bloody act of offering a bull or a goat as a stand-in payment for sin. He would have seen a small glimpse of the cost of sin every day he walked through the temple courts. 

This night, every storyline of history was about to change. A new sacrifice would be made. An act of obedience in a garden would open the way of life for all people. In Adam, all died, but in Christ, all would be made alive. In Adam, we lost the face to face relationship with God, but in Christ, our relationship would be restored. 

On Good Friday, we celebrate the crucifixion of our Lord in anticipation of his resurrection. As we read, sing, and respond this evening, we invite you into the depth of Christ’s suffering so that you might know the riches of his grace. We ask you to think about his payment for your sin so that you might know his offer of forgiveness. We sing of his death so that we might experience the fullness of his life. We walk through the darkness of Good Friday so that we might live in the light of Easter. 

“Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 
But he was pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our sins,
Upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
And by his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

Read our Good Friday service, here
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