New Teaching Series – Three Days

There’s never been a greater good news story. It’s so good and great because it transforms all of life. The Gospel (which means good news) is centered on the three most critical days of human history. Our salvation rests on what Jesus did and what happened to him on the Friday of his death, the Saturday of his burial, and the Sunday of his resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, Paul declares that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the basis of our deliverance from all the destructive effects of sin, now and forever. In this series leading up to Easter, we will take a deeper look into the meaning of each of those three days and how they affect and shape us now. We’ll explore what Jesus did for us each day and see how we are to respond to the unique spiritual truth of each event.

The Cross of Friday

This Sunday, we will look at Good Friday, the first of the three days. Jesus experienced excruciating pain and suffering as he was flogged and nailed to a cross. We can’t even imagine the extent of his pain. Right before Jesus died, he cried out My God, My God, why have you forsaken me (Mark 15:34 and Psalm 22:1). Crucifixion is primarily death by suffocation. Jesus could hardly breathe. When he spoke these last words right before his death, he had limited ability to speak, so he just quotes the first verse of Psalm 22. However, Jesus knew the entire Psalm by heart. I believe he was praying the whole psalm, not just the first verse.

We call Psalm 22 a “Messianic Psalm” because many of the things King David wrote about concerning his experiences were the exact things Jesus experienced. I encourage you to read and meditate on your own. Both David and Jesus were mocked and surrounded by enemies. Both had their bones exposed and their clothes divided up by casting lots. David describes his horrible condition and suffering in the first 21 verses, and God used David’s experience in a prophetic way to describe what Jesus experienced. 

The most common view in Christianity today is that the moment when Jesus declared God had forsaken him was in fact the moment that God turned his back on Jesus. Why? Because God could not look at all the sins of all humanity that Jesus bore at that moment. Yes, Jesus bore all the sins of the world on the cross. But did God turn away from Jesus? Jesus was being fully obedient to his Father. He was sacrificing his life for our sins. Would God abandon him at that very moment? Or did it just feel that way to Jesus? 

Let me make my case. Yes, I’m a rare voice that expresses this view, so, in humility, all I ask is that you consider it and make your own decision. Psalm 22 changes at verse 22. Remember that Jesus knew this whole Psalm. I believe Jesus was saying these very words in his mind. Look at verses 22-24 – I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help (Psalm 22:22-24). David goes from lament and suffering (verses 1-21) to praise (verses 22-31). Psalm 22 and many of the other Psalms follow this pattern. When we are first honest with God about our pain, honesty and transparency bring us back to a God worthy of praise.

I believe it is not wise to say that God turned his back on Jesus at the moment of his deepest pain and suffering on the cross. The very Psalm 22 that Jesus quoted says God “has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.” Jesus’ suffering was so intense that he felt like God had forsaken him. But Jesus prayed this prayer in his mind to remind him that his suffering was not despised and God had not abandoned him. Nor will God abandon us in our most difficult and painful moments. 

Join us this Sunday as we dig deeper into the meaning of that first Good Friday.

Glen Elliott


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