In the UK we are in the middle of Easter weekend, the most important weekend of the year for those who have come to know Jesus. If you don’t know Jesus personally, you may wonder what Good Friday is all about, or you may know that it’s on this day that we remember the horrific death of Jesus on a Roman cross yet still call the day Good Friday. Why?
The answer can be found in two Jewish prophecies. Prophesying approximately six hundred years before the birth of Yeshua (Jesus), Jeremiah pointed to a New Covenant that would be established between God and the Jewish people. This New Covenant promised a relationship with God our Creator and complete forgiveness for those humble enough to admit they need it. That free gift of forgiveness, although originally for the Jewish people, is now on offer to all, so that all of mankind may have the opportunity to share in the love, forgiveness and knowledge of God.
“This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremaih 31:33-34)
Just over a hundred years before Jeremiah, the prophet Isaiah also brought God’s message to the Jewish people. Chapter 53 of his book describes how the promise of God’s New Covenant would be established. Isaiah wrote that someone would take the place of us all, paying the price for my wrongdoing and yours, so we may know the forgiveness spoken of by Jeremiah and experience the love God has for us in our own 21st Century lives. Of course, even though God’s love and forgiveness are free, they need to be received. And how do you receive? Just ask, He won’t turn you away!
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. (Isaiah 53:3-10)
The question of whether Good Friday was actually a Friday is for another time!