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A traditional Passover meal, called a Seder, is a meal to commemorate the Israelites leaving Egypt. They recline to eat instead of sitting in a chair, eat matza (unleavened bread), bitter herbs and four cups of wine. The first cup of wine represents sanctification, which is the process of being made holy. It’s to remember that God’s people are to be set apart. The second cup represents the joy of Deliverance, a reminder that we are no longer under the yoke of slavery. The third cup is the cup of redemption. It was after eating the lamb as a reminder of the price paid for redemption. The fourth cup is the cup of restoration, a reminder that God would make His people a nation.
Think back to the night Jesus was betrayed (Good Friday). The disciples prepared the Passover meal where Jesus had told them to (Matthew 26:19). There’s no recording of the first cup of wine, but in Luke 22:17 we see the second cup where Jesus says He won’t drink it again until the Kingdom has come. We then read where Jesus broke the matza and blessed it. In verse 20 it says He lifted up another cup (third – redemption) and told them that He was making a new covenant confirmed with His blood as the Passover lamb. Matthew and Mark then say the went to the garden after this cup. While Jesus was on the cross, John 19 records that Jesus said He was thirsty. They lifted up sour wine to Him (fourth cup). Verse 30 says when He drank it, He said, “It is finished” and died. He finished the Passover meal and the fulfillment of it in that moment to redeem us and to restore us to God.
Here are some Bible verses on God redeeming us.
1. For there is one God, and there is one who brings God and human beings together, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself to redeem the whole human race. That was the proof at the right time that God wants everyone to be saved.
1 Timothy 2:5-6 GNT
2. “But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage.
Galatians 4:4-5 MSG
3. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served; he came to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.
Mark 10:45 GNT
4. The LORD redeems the soul of His servants, And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.
Psalms 34:22 AMP
5. He himself will redeem you; he will ransom you from the cruel slavery of your sins!
Psalms 130:8 TPT
Today is Good Friday. It’s a day to reflect on the cross and the price Jesus paid for our sins. I’ve heard it explained that we owed a debt we could not pay. He paid a debt He did not owe. Because of His sacrifice, we received God’s redemption at Christ’s expense. Its important to remember that no man took Jesus’ life from Him. Out of love for us, He willingly laid it down so that you and I could spend eternity with Him. While those who watched Him die didn’t understand what He was doing, you and I have the gift of hindsight. We know that He didn’t stay on the cross, nor in the grave. He resurrected from the dead to give us new life.
The cross that took Jesus’ life that Good Friday became the symbol for our faith. It reminds us of what Jesus did and that you and I are to take ours up daily and crucify our old life to it. Through the cross, we have been made a new creation. Our old life has passed away. Our sin, the thing that separated us from God, was nailed to the cross that day. He who was sinless, took on our sin that day so that you and I could become the righteousness of God through Him. Because of that, today is a day of reverence and reflection, but also a day of thanksgiving.
Here are five Bible verses that tell the story of Good Friday.
1. When the chief priests and the Temple guards saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “You take him, then, and crucify him. I find no reason to condemn him.”
John 19:6 GNT
2. When they came to the place that is known as The Skull, the guards crucified Jesus, nailing him on the center cross between the two criminals.
Luke 23:33 TPT
3. By this time it was about noon, and darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. The light from the sun was gone. And suddenly, the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn down the middle. Then Jesus shouted, “Father, I entrust my spirit into your hands!” And with those words he breathed his last.
Luke 23:44-46 NLT
4. Then the Jews, since it was the day of Sabbath preparation, and so the bodies wouldn’t stay on the crosses over the Sabbath (it was a high holy day that year), petitioned Pilate that their legs be broken to speed death, and the bodies taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first man crucified with Jesus, and then the other. When they got to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs. One of the soldiers stabbed him in the side with his spear. Blood and water gushed out.
John 19:31-34 MSG
5. I have been crucified with Christ [that is, in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith [by adhering to, relying on, and completely trusting] in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
GALATIANS 2:20 AMP
One of my favorite places to visit in Israel is The Garden Tomb. With all the craziness of Jerusalem going on outside of this garden, there is a bubble of peace resting over it. When you visit the tomb, there is a door instead of a stone. On the door is a sign that reads, “He is not here – For He is risen”. It’s such a great reminder that He conquered death, Hell and the grave so that you and I could be with Him one day.
It wasn’t enough that He was born and became a man. It wasn’t enough that He lived a sinless life. It wasn’t enough that He died. Yes, He needed to in order to pay the debt for our sins, but it’s His resurrection that gives us eternal life and hope. It is the cornerstone of our faith. The empty tomb represents redemption for mankind and a restored relationship with our creator. This weekend, don’t just focus on the death of Jesus. Celebrate that there is an empty tomb, and that gives us life.
Here are verses about Jesus and the resurrection.
1. David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said, “He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.”
Acts 2:31 GNT
2. Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, relies on) Me [as Savior] will live even if he dies; and everyone who lives and believes in Me [as Savior] will never die. Do you believe this?”
JOHN 11:25-26 AMP
3. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:16-17 NASB
4. Our firm decision is to work from this focused center: One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat. He included everyone in his death so that everyone could also be included in his life, a resurrection life, a far better life than people ever lived on their own.
2 Corinthians 5:15 MSG
5. Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.”
Matthew 28:5-6 NLT
I’ve always wanted to know more about the two criminals that were crucified on either side of Jesus. The Bible introduces us to them, we hear briefly from them and then they’re gone. In Luke 23:39 we hear one say, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” Then the other one says, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (NLT).
Both of these men are in agony as well. They have nails in their hands and feet, and they are suspended above the crowd. You can hear the bitterness in the first man’s words. He’s facing certain death, and he’s angry instead of being repentant for the wrongs he’s done. The other man understands that he’s being given what he deserves, yet it leads him to seek forgiveness. Jesus responds to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I think it’s incredible that when we are in pain, it either makes us bitter or drives us closer to God.
There’s not one of us who won’t have to deal with pain or consequences in our lives. The pain may be physical or emotional, but we are all going to experience it. When we are experiencing it, we can choose to let it make us bitter or better. God uses pain to get our attention because sometimes that’s the only way we will listen. He will do whatever it takes to get our attention to keep us from spending eternity without Him. He sent His only Son to die on the cross to show us He loves us. He forgave the criminal beside Him who had committed a crime worthy of death. He can forgive you too. If you’re in pain today, don’t let it push you away from God. Let it make you more dependent on Him than ever.
From the time Jesus left Pilate’s court until He arrived at Golgotha, there was a crowd of people. Some people in that crowd were people who loved Him and were for Him. Some were people who were passing by and got caught up in it. Then there were those who were railing against Him while the top religious leaders were trying to create a mob to make sure Jesus wouldn’t be rescued. There were so many people that Pilate assigned an entire battalion of 600 guards to the crucifixion.
After being severely beaten, and paraded through the streets, Jesus made His way outside of the city walls to the place of the skull. There, after they nailed Him to those roughly cut boards,, they raised Him up for all to see. The crowd began to taunt Him even more. Matthew 27:40 records them as saying, “‘Look at you now!’ they yelled at him. ‘You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!’” (NLT)
I often wonder where I would have been in the crowd that day. It’s easy to think I would have been with the disciples, quietly watching in shock. Jesus’ accusers knew His sermons. They were quoting the things He had said. These were people who saw the miracles and shouted, “Hosanna” just a week before, yet here they were mocking Him. Would you and I have been caught up in the rush of the moment to attack a person who was being humiliated publicly? We do it every day on social media. Why would this have been different?
I’m sure every bit of Jesus’ human nature was screaming at Him to come off the cross to prove to them that He was the Son of God and to silence them. Thankfully He obeyed the Spirit’s voice that had Him die on the cross that day. Because He stayed on the cross, He was able to open the doors of Heaven to all those in the crowd that day who were insulting Him. His blood that was spilled that day was enough to pay the debt of any sin that was ever committed or ever would be. He didn’t save Himself that day so that He could save you and me.
Today is the day we traditionally celebrate Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in order to be crucified by the Passover so He could fulfill that feast. He became our Pascal lamb so that we could find salvation and healing. God didn’t withhold from Jesus what was going to happen on Good Friday. He knew what was coming and that means He was very deliberate in the things He said and did.
Today, I want to focus our verses on His final words. I believe they were chosen carefully and given with great urgency. When your time is up, you don’t waste words on trivial things. You focus on what matters and make sure that those around you get any final wisdom or instruction from you. Jesus was no different. His words that Friday were chosen carefully and used to fulfill prophesy as well.
Here are some of Jesus’ final words.
1. Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He replied to him, “It is as you say.”
MARK 15:2 AMP
2. Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father! They don’t know what they are doing.” They divided his clothes among themselves by throwing dice.
Luke 23:34 GNT
3. And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:43 NLT
4. At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
Matthew 27:46 NLT
5. When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And He bowed His head and [voluntarily] gave up His spirit.
JOHN 19:30 AMP
A few years ago, i played the part of Pilate for our church’s Easter drama. As I rehearsed my lines and got into character, it dawned on me that I was the one sentencing Jesus to death. My first thought was, “I don’t know that I want to play this part.” Of all the characters in the drama, I’m the one who has the power to save Him and keep Him from being crucified. Even though I find no fault in Him, I still release Him to the mob to be killed.
As I struggled with playing that character, it hit me that it wasn’t Pilate who sentenced Jesus to death. It was me. Me! Chris Hendrix. It was my sin that condemned Him. It was my faults that nailed Him to the cross. These are things that I’ve known my whole life, but as I began to play the part of Pilate, I realized I’ve not really fully accepted that blame. I’ve been shifting it to those who actually crucified Him.
There were all kinds of accusations being brought against Jesus in the different courts that night. The religious courts made up charges against Him, but they didn’t stick because the people they paid off couldn’t get their stories straight. They continued to harass Him and finally found a “guilty” verdict for Him speaking the truth about who He was. They just didn’t want to hear it.
In Pilate’s court, the religious leaders shouted accusations. In fact, the Message says, “The accusations rained down hot and heavy.” During all of the accusations, Jesus didn’t say a word. He fulfilled the prophesy in Isaiah 53:7 that says, “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word” (NLT). Pilate was impressed that He was silent among all the false accusations and tried to pass the buck to Herod in Galilee. He didn’t want to be the one to condemn Him.
When Jesus came before Herod, all Herod wanted was to see Jesus perform a sign or a miracle. When Jesus remained silent, Herod became offended. He dressed Him up like a king and joined in with the others and began to mock Him. They insulted Him to try to get Him to speak. Finally, he got board and sent Him back to Pilate. He couldn’t find a reason to condemn Jesus either.
We all fit into one of these courts with our lives. We can be like the religious leaders and say that He wasn’t the Son of God. We can accuse Him of lying and deny that He was who He said He was. We can be like Herod and mock Him and those who believe in Him. We can say, “Show me a sign and I’ll believe.” Or we can find ourselves like Pilate. We are impressed with Him and find no guilt in Him, but refuse to act on it. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what court you’re in, it was each of us who condemned Him to death. He went willingly to the cross for those of us who lie about Him, those of us who mock Him, and those of us who bow to the pressure of sin.
Each of us in our own way condemned Him to death. Even though I thought that as Pilate I had the power to save Him, I really didn’t. His ultimate plan was to die on the cross. If He hadn’t been crucified, we would still be in our sins and without hope. He kept that in mind as they hurled their accusations at Him. He loved them enough to stay silent in the face of their lies. He loved them enough to not perform a miracle for Herod. He loved you enough that He willingly died so He could pay the price for your sin. The real power was in His hands, not Pilate’s, and He used it for us. He took our “guilty” verdict on Himself to make us “innocent”. This Easter weekend, if you haven’t thanked Him for that, let me encourage you to. If you’ve never accepted Him for who He was and is, it’s time to recognize Him as the Son of God and invite Him to be Lord of your life. He died for you. Will you live for Him?
1. “You don’t have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all.” (John 11:25-26 MSG)
2. With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all. (Acts 4:33 GNB)
3. For since [it was] through a man that death [came into the world, it is] also through a Man that the resurrection of the dead [has come]. (1 Corinthians 15:21 AMP)
4. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! (Philippians 3:10-11 NLT)
5. Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned!—at the resurrection of God’s people.” (Luke 14:12-14 MSG)
6. And baptism, which is a figure [of their deliverance], does now also save you [from inward questionings and fears], not by the removing of outward body filth [bathing], but by [providing you with] the answer of a good and clear conscience (inward cleanness and peace) before God [because you are demonstrating what you believe to be yours] through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:21 AMP)
7. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. (1 Corinthians 15:23 NLT)
8. “Don’t act so surprised at all this. The time is coming when everyone dead and buried will hear his voice. Those who have lived the right way will walk out into a resurrection Life; those who have lived the wrong way, into a resurrection Judgment. (John 5:28-29 MSG)
9. David saw what God was going to do in the future, and so he spoke about the resurrection of the Messiah when he said: ‘He was not abandoned in the world of the dead; his body did not rot in the grave.’ (Acts 2:31 GNB)
10. At the crack of dawn on Sunday, the women came to the tomb carrying the burial spices they had prepared. They found the entrance stone rolled back from the tomb, so they walked in. But once inside, they couldn’t find the body of the Master Jesus.
They were puzzled, wondering what to make of this. Then, out of nowhere it seemed, two men, light cascading over them, stood there. The women were awestruck and bowed down in worship. The men said, “Why are you looking for the Living One in a cemetery? He is not here, but raised up. Remember how he told you when you were still back in Galilee that he had to be handed over to sinners, be killed on a cross, and in three days rise up?” Then they remembered Jesus’ words. (Luke 24:1-8 MSG)
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Several years ago, I had the incredible privilege to celebrate Good Friday at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem. As I attended the sunrise service, I kept staring over at the door to the tomb. I imagined the size of the rock that once covered that entrance. I pictured Mary weeping just a few feet away. I wondered what direction Peter and John came running from. It was surreal to be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus by the tomb that once held Him. As the sun came up, my mind turned its attention to the Angels who were there and the message they gave to all who came to that place.
Mark 16:6 records them as saying, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead!” All of christianity hinges on that last statement. I Corinthians 15:14 says, “If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. (NLT)” Jesus didn’t come just to die. He came to rise again. He wasn’t just going to be crucified for our sins, He was going to be raised from the dead to give us life. His resurrection brought life where Adam’s sin brought death. Jesus defeated the power of death the moment He burst out of that tomb.
In Luke 24:5, the Angels asked the women, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?” Jesus had told them He would be raised on the third day, so why were they visiting the borrowed tomb with spices to embalm Him? They were looking for a crucified Jesus instead of a resurrected Jesus. Their message goes out to us today. Quit looking for the right thing in the wrong place. Our Lord was crucified, but He rose from the dead. You don’t have to go to a tomb to find Him. He left the place of the dead so that He could walk with you today among the living.
The final thing I thought about as I sat there came from Mark 16:7. The angel said, “Now go tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee.” My favorite part is where he said, “including Peter”. After Peter denied Jesus, I’m sure he no longer felt like a disciple. I’m sure he was beating himself up for the mistake he made. The Angels wanted to make sure he knew that he was still loved and considered by God as a disciple. They sent him a clear message that he was forgiven no matter what he did.
Too many times we beat ourselves up over sins we have committed. We think keep ourselves from the grace that has been given to us because we beat ourselves up. While Jesus’ death on the cross paid the price for your sin, His resurrection gives you new life after it. You can put your name in that message where Peter’s name is. The Angels are speaking to you too, they are saying you are loved, you are forgiven and Jesus is waiting for you. All He’s asking is that you trust the power of the resurrection, that you leave the cemetery of your past and that you move ahead where He is waiting for you.