Good Friday- An Event 1400 Years in the Making

April 10, 2009

This past week I taught on Isaiah 53 in my Sunday School class and about how it is the bridge for us between two very important texts regarding our salvation– Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 9.  

Leviticus 16 describes for us the Day of Atonement, that day that the people of Israel came together and had their sins atoned for by the intercession of the high priest making sacrifice for them and sending out the scapegoat to remove their iniquity.  This chapter ends by saying,

And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the LORD from all your sins. It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Moses did as the LORD commanded him. (Leviticus 16.29-34)

Continuing into Isaiah 53 we find the picture of the suffering servant, a man afflicted by God, and here is what we are told of him:

Surely he has borne our griefs
     and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
     smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions;
     he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
     and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
     we have turned-every one-to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
     the iniquity of us all
. (Isaiah 53.4-6)

Finally, Hebrews 9 shows us that in dying on the cross, Jesus Christ, our great high priest, served to fulfill the requirements of the Day of Atonement and to make an end of the sacrifices necessary for us to be justified and able to stand in the presence of the Almighty God.  It tells us that, 

[W]hen Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9.11-14)

So, we see, just in brief, the story told to us throughout the Bible, of a need for sacrifice, of a suffering servant who is to come and bear our iniquities, and finally of the one who completed this work.  This Good Friday let’s celebrate the greatness both of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and of a God who loved us so much he orchestrated the whole of history to lead to our redemption.  

Glory be to God forever!  Amen.