Christmas Eve: God With Us
Three Reminders to Remain a Healthy Church
Sunday, June 7 Watermark Fort Worth Service
“Races” Don’t Reconcile, People Do: How to Love, Listen and Live like Christ
When Racial Tensions Rise, So Must The Church
Devotion to Christ While We Disagree about How to Respond to the COVID (or any other) Crisis.
Sober Minded Living That Leads to Sanctification: How We Make War Against Sin
A Message from the Elders on Membership, Connection, Care and Community Formation
The Gift of Trials
Easter, It's Impossible to Overreact
Good Friday | In the Waiting (Plano)
Good Friday 2020
Plagues, Censuses, and Leadership
Leaders That Create Churches Others Are Thankful For: Plano Launch
Evening with the Elders
The Gospel Through Marriage
Our Lens: The Gospel
A Biblical View of Marriage
Who We Are
The Richness of the Gospel
Fort Worth Transition Update
Experiencing Our Purpose in Christ
Blake Holmes: Well, hello, friends. My name is Blake Holmes, and welcome to Watermark's Good Friday service. Obviously, this is very different than what we've done in years past because of the coronavirus, but I am excited about what we have planned for today: a time just to reflect on the significance of Good Friday. To do that, I've invited my good friend David Leventhal to come join me.
David Leventhal: Hey, hey.
Blake: David, thank you for taking the time out to do this.
Blake: I'm looking forward to our time together.
Blake: I'm going to start, David, just by asking you the question that my kids always asked me growing up. They say, "Hey, Dad, Dad. Why is Good Friday called Good Friday? Why do we call it good?"
David: Yeah. It does seem like an odd way to address the day that our Savior was crucified, but like a lot of things in Scripture, we call the Friday where God became man and hung on a cross and bled and was tortured and died Good Friday because of what it produced. We call it Good Friday as we look back.
They didn't call it Good Friday when it happened. I assure you that. But we can call it Good Friday as we look back because we know that Friday comes before Sunday, and we have the benefit of knowing the story. We know that Friday led to Sunday, which was the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So we can look back in hindsight and say, "As awful as Friday was," and it was awful, "it led to something unspeakably good," which is why it's Good Friday.
Blake: Which, if you're anything like me in a season like this, I'm tempted often to look past Good Friday a lot of ways because you and I know how this movie ends, so to speak. I want to rush to Sunday. I want to rush to the resurrection. That's why I think it's important that we're doing what we're doing today, just to stop and prepare our hearts for what happened today so that we can appreciate the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We can't appreciate Sunday until we stop and reflect on today and what happened on Friday. So David, take, if you don't mind, just take a few minutes and just share with everyone. When did you first come to the realization that Friday, and Sunday, what we're celebrating this week, has tremendous significance?
David: Yeah. So for me, just a quick background. I was raised in a home where the gospel was taught regularly. Not a perfect home, because there is no such thing as a perfect home, so we had our issues and our problems, but my mom and dad consistently and regularly shared the gospel with us that we were broken, we were sinners in need of a Savior, and that Jesus Christ was the mechanism by which God could create reconciliation.
So I was raised with that information in my brain really from my earliest memories. But I largely was riding the coattails of my parent's faith through junior high and through high school. It wasn't until I got into college, halfway through my freshman year, when some guys began to invest in me, some guys who were involved in a parachurch ministry on campus.
Guys who I had known from my high school who had come to know the Lord since they graduated from high school began to really invest in me and began to remind me of these things that my parents had taught me over a period of a couple of months. I remember walking into the student union on the campus one day.
As I was walking up the stairs, I just being overwhelmed a little bit, almost like the lightbulb came on and all of a sudden, all these pieces that I had heard kind of came together. I think perhaps for the first time, I really got ahold of the truth that I was in deep trouble based on what I now was becoming convinced that was true, which was that apart from Jesus Christ, apart from some sort of a reconciliation method I was never going to be in a good spot on this earth, or more importantly, for eternity to come.
So it was at that season of my life when the gospel became real. That I was broken. That I could not fix my brokenness with athletic achievement, with popularity, with good works, which I really wasn't doing good works at that time, but even if I had been, that wouldn't have been something that would've crossed the great divide.
I couldn't get the good to outweigh the bad. None of that was going to be appropriate for me, was going to get me peace with God. It was only through faith, as Paul says, _ "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast." _ That truth began to really sink in. In a very short amount of time it really began to radically alter the way that I viewed everything.
Blake: It's a game-changer, right?
David: Yeah, changed everything about my everything.
Blake: Yeah, I think there's a lot of this in Dallas perhaps, of growing up, going to church. We almost become inoculated to the truth. We hear a lot of the stories and as you said, it's like a bunch of fragmented pieces to the puzzle. Then at some point… You were a little older. I was in elementary school, and it just clicked.
All of those pieces that I had heard growing up, the various stories, I began to see the picture. There is a God in heaven who loved me. He desired to have a relationship with me, but because of my sin, all the things I had done that was contrary to the will of God, I'd been separated from him. But Romans 6:23 says, _ "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." _ That changed my everything, too.
So listen, what I thought we might do today… When you look at that Friday in which Christ died, you look at the passages of Scripture: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and you just take a look at the words, what did Jesus say when he was on the cross? I remember him saying, _ "It is finished!" "I am thirsty." __ "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." _
David: _ "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." _
Blake: Yeah, but there's one line that you and I have been talking about a lot this week where he asks the why question. He says, _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _ So what I want to do is take a look at this passage and just better understand the significance of this. But before we jump into it, why don't you set up the context for us, what we're looking at? Matthew, chapter 27, verse 46 is where he asks that question.
David: Yeah, so I think to your point, it's going to be helpful for us I think to marinate in this hardness. We all want to get to Sunday, but there's benefit… For those of us who are familiar with the story, there's benefit to sitting in the darkness of Good Friday. So yeah, Matthew 27. Jesus is on the cross. He has been on the cross since about nine in the morning.
The passage, we've kind of talked about it, kicks in about the sixth hour, which is about noon. From noon until about 3 p.m., the ninth hour, it says that there was darkness over the land. If you know your Bible, and Matthew's audience, written to Jews… They certainly knew their Bible. They knew that darkness was not a good sign.
It harkens back even to the exodus and the plagues on the Egyptians when the ninth plague was darkness over all the land with the exception of the Jews. That darkness preceded in the exodus something horrible. It preceded the tenth curse, which was the death of the firstborn son in the Egyptians and the Passover meal.
So we are in a period when Jesus is on the cross. Darkness has covered the land from about noon to about 3 p.m. He cries out in the midst of this darkness, _ "'Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" _ That's where we are. He is going to shortly give up his life in short order here. But right now, as you mention, we're going to sit in the uncomfortableness, in the hardness, in the darkness of Jesus' cry from Psalm 22. _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _
Blake: And it's the time of the Passover here. You and I talked about looking at this from several different perspectives. Let's start first with the perspective of the Son. So he is asking the why question. _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _ We know from Scripture, it's not like Jesus is confused. It's not like he doesn't understand. Several times in Scripture, he talked about his hour that was to come.
I just think about in the book of Matthew itself, three different times he predicts, "Hey, I'm going to go to the cross." If you look at specifically chapter 16, verse 21. It says, _ "From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised." _ He repeats that again in Matthew 20:18-19 and then in Matthew 20, verse 28. So it doesn't seem like he is confused. So what is this cry? What's behind the why?
David: Yes. So let's acknowledge first that this was a very real… When Jesus is crying, _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _ he is not saying, "God, it feels like you have forsaken me." This was the Father forsaking the Son. He is crying on that because for the first time in all of eternity, Father, Son, and Spirit, there is a sense and a realism which the Father turned his back on the Son.
One of the key components of the cross is what the Bible calls propitiation. It's this big word which simply means that the wrath of God had to be satisfied. Isaiah talks about this in chapter 53, verse 6. He writes, _ "All we like sheep have gone astray…" _ This passage is specifically talking about the Messiah that would come. _ "…each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." _
So God the Father, his hatred of sin… And I don't think that's the wrong word. I think that's the perfect word. God hates sin. Sin always leads to death. In God's love, he was going to reconcile that, but he did that through the death of his firstborn Son. Second Corinthians 5:21 says that _ "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." _
Galatians 3 tells us, _ "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, 'CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE'…" _ Which is going back to Deuteronomy. That's a quote from Deuteronomy. So Jesus is asking that question because he is in a very real literal sense being forsaken by the Father as the Father cannot look on sin.
I love what Jonathan Edwards wrote about this. He said, "Never did God so manifest his hatred of sin as in the death and sufferings of his only-begotten Son. Hereby he showed himself unappeasable to sin, and that it was impossible for him to be at peace with it." God and sin cannot coexist so if Jesus is going to become the ransom by which many might be saved, he is going to take on the full brunt of sin, and there is a turning of the back of the Father on the Son.
Jesus experienced, in a way that I have to believe was infinitely greater than the physical suffering he experienced, which was unimaginable honestly, the spiritual separation from the Father and from the Spirit. So that's why Jesus is crying out, _ "…why have you forsaken me?" _ Because he is, for the first time, experiencing what it's like to not have the Father's favor turned toward him.
Blake: It's a cry of anguish. He experiences the wrath of God as he pays our penalty. _ "…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." _
David: And it's not like Jesus has forgotten. Because he cries out, _ "My God, my God…" _ So he has not abandoned his relationship to God. This is a different prayer, though, because in the gospel of Matthew, we see five or six times previous to this whenever Jesus prays, he prays, "Father." He prays to the Father, the relationship of a father to a son. Abba, Father. That's the prayer, the model, throughout Matthew.
In this one instance, it's not Father. It's _ "My God, my God…" _ So he is acknowledging the relationship, that he still acknowledges the Father, that God exists, but it's a different relationship. Thank the Lord we have in Luke. Because you could be left to hang on this. This relationship with the Father is broken in a sense. We see in Luke, Jesus ends his time on the cross. He gives up his life and he says, _ "Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT." _ So he recaptures that as he gives up his life at the end.
Blake: That's good. You and I were talking about what one commentator said. I'll just read this. Looking at this particular passage. He says, "The cry has a ruthless authenticity which provides the assurance that the price of sin has been paid in full. Yet Jesus did not die renouncing God." To your point. "Even in the inferno of his abandonment he did not surrender his faith in God but expressed his anguished prayer in a cry of affirmation. 'My God, my God.'"
That's strong. That's strong. Okay, so we looked at it from the perspective of the Son. This is a perspective, as you and I have talked, that I don't think that perhaps many of us have stopped to think about, but the perspective of the Father and Spirit at this time. What are your thoughts on that?
David: Yeah, I mean, it is almost… You know, now we're wading out into waters that get deep pretty quick…What is it like for the Trinity…Father, Son and Spirit…to have coexisted for all eternity? There is a point in time when the Son enters into human history in the form of a baby, the invisible God puts on flesh, lives on earth, and then 33-ish years into his life, he goes to the cross.
For the first time ever, and we think in terms of days, months, and years… That's not even an appropriate way to think about it, because the Father, Son, and Spirit are outside of time. So they're not on a stopwatch. So for the first time in eternity past, and it would be the last time, the only time, there is a disruption of this fellowship. It's hard to even put into words what that would've been like for the Father and for the Spirit, and as we've talked about previously, what is was like for the Son to experience that, and to think about why that occurred.
Blake: To invite us into that. Jesus is giving us a chance, when we place our faith in him, what he has done, to invite us into that fellowship to be a part of the family of God.
David: Yeah, the only time that the fellowship of the Trinity was broken was done so that man, created in the image of God, where that image has been defaced significantly since Genesis 3, could be brought back into fellowship. It is… I mean, you could swim in those waters for a long time just meditating on the truth and the significance and the implications of, "How much does God love broken, fallen humans if that's the length to which he is willing to go?"
Blake: Okay, so let me see if I can summarize a little bit what we've said up to this point for everybody. This is what I want you to hear, those of you listening at home: There's a God in heaven who loves you. We are separated from him because of our sin. All of us have sinned. The wages of sin is death. We all are now experiencing physical death, but also spiritual death.
We're living in a world which God did not intend for us to live, but we chose to rebel against him. God has been on a rescue mission, if you will, since long before Jesus was even walking the earth, which we're going to get to here in a little bit. We're going to talk more about. But what's significant here, what we see on the cross, as David said well, is that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man.
He paid the penalty for our sin to bridge the gap between a perfect, righteous, holy God and a sinful people. As the God-man, fully God so as to be without sin and fully man so as to serve as our substitute, he bridged that gap to offer us an invitation of forgiveness and to extend his grace. So David, let's just pick up with…
We were talking about the perspective of Christ, the perspective of the Father and the Spirit. I remember one man said this. "As we read this passage, our focus is always on Jesus and what he is experiencing. But do we ever stop and think what the Father and the Spirit were experiencing on the other side of the separation?
How terrible for them to be forced to forsake one with whom they had enjoyed perfect fellowship and harmony since eternity past. How horrible to see this perfect one they love completely taste and endure the bitterness of sin and judgement. It must've been just as horrible for them as it was for Jesus, if not worse."
So let's go to the third perspective of those who heard him on that day. Everybody is listening. They don't get the full significance of what's going on. But just unpack that.
David: Yeah, so you have a variety of folks at the foot of the cross that day. You have guys who are being crucified with Jesus. You have soldiers. You have women and men who love Jesus who are watching him suffer. Jesus has this cry, _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _ and the response, to some of those, was, "Hey, he is calling to Elijah."
It could've been that they, as I mentioned Jesus said it not in English, obviously… But, _ "Eli, Eli…" _ which sounds a lot like Ēlias, which is how you say Elijah, so they could've misheard him. And they could've thought, "Hey, maybe he is crying to Elijah." Because there was this belief that Elijah would precede the coming of the Lord, that he would offer aid to those who are suffering.
So they could've misheard. There could've been a misunderstanding of who this guy is who is on the cross. He is not even the Savior. He is crying for help because he is lost and adrift at sea and is grasping for someone to come help him. We see that as he dies and as the earth physically vomits at his death, so to speak, and the temple is torn from top to bottom, that there is this response from the soldier, _ "Truly this was the Son of God!" _ There are a lot of different responses going on at the foot of the cross.
Blake: People are mocking him at the same time. "Hey, this guy healed others. Why can't he heal himself?"
David: Yeah, why can't he heal himself? So there was a lot of confusion. That's why we started. Good Friday wasn't Good Friday on the Friday when it happened. I think it's appropriate to remind you if you don't know Jesus, this is not your Good Friday.
If you don't know Jesus, this Friday will be for you an awful Friday when you look back, because God is going to point to this event as the pivot on which all of human history swings, and he is going to say to you, "It's Good Friday if you know him and if you accept his death and resurrection for your sins, but if you don't know him, this is not a good Friday for you."
Blake: So David, there's a time in which all of us must answer the question which Jesus asked. _ "But who do you say that I am?" _ Each of us must answer that question for ourselves. There is no more significant question we can ask than, "Who is Jesus and what was he doing on that cross?" It doesn't matter if we grew up going to church or what our family believed or what our friends believe or if we attend church every Christmas and Easter. We have to make that decision.
David: This is a personal faith. Your faith is personal. It's not private, as we've said repeatedly from Watermark's stage. If you are trusting in your parent's faith, if you are trusting on your religiosity, if you are trusting in the fact that you show up in a building every Easter and every Christmas and every high holy holiday, if you come to Jesus, if you come to the Father with anything other than, "All I've contributed to my salvation is the sin that I brought to the cross," then, yeah, you're going to be in a heap of trouble.
Blake: All we bring to the cross is sin and resistance. That's good. Yeah, I think just for those who are at home, Matthew 27:54, you mentioned the centurion. Matthew 27:54 says, _ "When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, 'Truly this was the Son of God!'" _ What's crazy, David, is how could so many people look at the same event and walk away with such drastically different conclusions?
It's the same way today, right? You and I are sitting here talking about the love of Jesus Christ, that God became man in the person of Jesus, the incarnation, took our place, paid our penalty, died on the cross for our sins. For other people, it's just a holiday. For other people, it's a day they get off work. For other people, it's just another day in the year. We draw such dramatically different conclusions, but we all must answer that question.
Let's get to the fourth perspective, and that is just kind of piggybacking on that idea. Today you and I have shared our thoughts. What would you say to those, David, who… Listen, this is particularly today, particularly on this Good Friday? There are people asking the same question, if you will. "Hey God, why? Why does it look like this world is completely broken? Why is there so much suffering?" What do we make of that?
David: Yeah, I mean I do think we're in a weird season in a way that, frankly, most or maybe all of us have never been in. So some folks are asking the question, "Why, God, have you forsaken us?" I think the first thing I would say to those folks is, "I don't think you're crazy. I think it is a really weird season that we're in right now, and weird and hard seasons prompt hard questions."
I would say to you that, "Jesus (as we've talked about) was forsaken, literally, so that those who call him Savior and those who call the Father Father would never be forsaken. So while it might feel like you individually or us collectively have been forsaken by God, if you know Jesus and the Father, you have not been forsaken."
Again, I go back to Spurgeon who says things in a way that is so much more eloquent and profound than I could. He says, "There are seasons when the brightness of our Father's smile is eclipsed by clouds and darkness; but let us remember that God never does really forsake us. It is only a seeming of a forsaking with us." But in Christ's case, it was a real forsaken. "We grieve at a little withdrawal of our Father's love; but the real turning away of God's face from His Son, who shall calculate how deep the agony which it caused Him?"
I would say, "We might feel like God has forsaken us, but let's be clear. God has not forsaken us." The way I know that is because I have put my faith and my trust by God's grace in the cross and I know that God is not going to lose any of his people. So I know that I have not really been forsaken, but this does remind me in seasons like this that I need to dig deep into community.
This is why we were never meant… If you know Jesus, you were never meant to be a lone‑ranger Christian. We need each other in seasons when life is hard. We need each other when things are going well to remind us that it's not all about us. That our things going great is not a result of anything we've done, but of God's favor. We need each other even more when the clouds are dark to remind each other and to hold each other up, that, "You are not alone. God has not forgotten you." This is why we rely on the body of Christ. We need each other.
Blake: The cross itself is proof that God has not forsaken us. The cross is evidence that God loves us and he has entered into our broken world.
David: Yeah, this is Romans 5:8. Right. _ "…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." _ So there's nothing else he can do that can demonstrate his love in any more fulsome, bigger, complete way than the cross. We can always go back to Good Friday and say, "No matter what happens in my temporal circumstances, I can know that God loves me because of this singular event that occurred. Everything else needs to be processed in light of that event."
Blake: So let's unpack that a little bit, David, because I think this is a really important point. You just said, "Everything else that we experience needs to be processed in light of this event." This is the pivot point of all of history. In fact, the way in which we tell time is before Christ and after Christ. Let's talk about just having a biblical worldview. Even this statement that Jesus makes on the cross, _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _ This isn't the first time we read this in Scripture. We see this…where? Help us.
David: Yeah, Jesus is quoting from Psalm 22:1. That's a psalm. So if you read in Matthew or in Mark's account (you see that's repeated in Mark as well), you ought to look at your little footnote in your Bible. The footnote is going to tell you, "This comes from Psalm 22." You should turn your Bible back and go back and read Psalm 22.
It's a psalm that starts off… Really, I guess verses 1 to 21… You could break the psalm into three parts or I think for simplicity, two big chunks: 1 to 21 and 22 to the end. Verses 1 to 21 are about the abandonment and the suffering and, ultimately, the death of the servant in the psalm. Verses 22 to the end are about joining in a worldwide praise of the Father and the victory that comes after that.
So you should read Psalm 22, verse 1, in light of the whole psalm which is, "Things are bad for this messianic psalm points to Jesus. It's going to end in death." Then 22 on is going to be, there's this sense in which there's praise and there's a kingdom mentality. And Psalm 22 is placed strategically in your Bible. The psalms weren't, as you and I talked about earlier, put in the Psalter in some haphazardly manner. The psalms are in a particular order. So go back and read Psalm 19 and 20 and 21 and 22 and 23 because those psalms…
Blake: Which 23 is a crowd favorite. We're all familiar with that one. But 22 precedes it.
David: Yes, if you read Psalm 23 without thinking about the one that comes right before it, you've missed it. Because the darkness and the suffering of Psalm 22 finds its fulfillment in Psalm 23. Specifically right in the dead center of Psalm 23. _ "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…" _
_ "…you are with me…" _ That phrase is the answer to the darkness of Psalm 22, and it falls right in the middle of Psalm 23. So contextually this, _ "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" _ fits in a broader narrative, just like our suffering today fits in a broader narrative. That's why when we look at seasons like we're in today…
Look, this season is going to come to an end and there will be other seasons where it seems like the clouds have descended and they're darker and there may be fear. In those seasons, we have to remind ourselves of what is true, which is that we are not home. One of the things that I am, in the midst of all this craziness, so thankful for is that the one thing this coronavirus has forced our world to recognize is that we are not in control. That this earth is broken.
That's not a surprise. Scripture talks about that. I go back to Romans 8 where Paul writes that, _ "For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now." _ Now Paul wrote this back when he wrote it, and it's still happening. _ "And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies." _
Paul picks this theme up again in 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, which I encourage you to read. He says, _ "For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling…" _ We are all experiencing, collectively now in a way that we haven't collectively in a while, the brokenness of this earth.
It should remind you that you and I, if you know Jesus, you are not home. Our sufferings, Paul would say they are light and they are momentary. They're only light and momentary if you put them in the context of the broader narrative. If you are a guy who believes that you have 50 years on earth and that's it, then these are not light and momentary. These are big and heavy and should weigh you down in a way that is really discouraging.
But if you know Jesus and you know that our time on earth is a flash, that while we're here, we're being prepared for our eternity with the Father and the Son and the Spirit in unhindered fellowship where we only see dimly today, but we will see clearly then these things we can take comfort that they're light and momentary.
I'm navigating through the book of James right now in my own personal time in the Word. James reminds us, _ "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." _ He starts the beginning of that, _ "…for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete…" _
So if I can remember in the midst of my suffering either this current season or other seasons where there is sickness or death or job loss or prodigal children or whatever, if I know that those things are producing in me, I can count it all joy, which is what James says. _ "Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds…" _ Because they are producing something.
But only if I put it in that broader context. I can count this coronavirus as joy, not because of the virus, but because what it's producing. It's producing in me steadfastness, or some of your translations may be perseverance. If I let that have its full weight in my life, it'll produce all that I need. That's why we take a long-term approach to our faith. I'm not stuck on the coronavirus.
Blake: Well, you mentioned… This is probably an appropriate passage for us to close with, 2 Corinthians 4. I'll read it. It says in 2 Corinthians 4, beginning in verse 16, _ "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." _
Paul can only say that in light of everything you just shared. A biblical worldview, seeing not just today, the challenges we're facing today, but taking a much broader view in light of the cross and the hope that comes from knowing Christ.
David: Yeah, and you would be crazy to think you could have that worldview apart from Good Friday. You just would be. If you don't know Jesus, then you ought to be panicking right now, frankly.
Blake: Right. This exposes our idols. We're looking for life in all the wrong places.
David: Yeah, if you have planted your hope in the Dallas Cowboys or your portfolio or whatever, anything other than Jesus, then you have been exposed. As believers, we need to ask ourselves. This is an appropriate time to do a hard, honest self-evaluation. "What else have I been filling the gaps in with?"
I say that I trust Jesus. I say that I believe that Good Friday was good, but I've discovered since all of this has happened that I have some chips over in this corner here where I'm relying on my finances more than maybe I ought to or my relationship with these people more than I ought to or my job more than I ought to.
Look, God knows we're frail. So we just want to own that, we want to confess that. We want to go back and ask God to help us re-center our hearts on the truth of this Good Friday, on the hardness of it. We want to ask him to remind us of what we're going to talk about on Sunday, which is that this awful, unspeakable horror turned into the greatest event ever in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Blake: When he defeats sin and death and offers us life.
David: Yes, and we are the firstfruit of that. Paul would say that if the resurrection didn't happen, then we're fools. I don't want to get ahead of ourselves, because we'll talk about that in a couple of days, but the resurrection did happen. So as believers, if you know Jesus, it's okay to do a fearless and searching inventory of, "How are we doing?"
Blake: But to your point, David, hey look, if we're living with the same level of anxiety even as professed believers, if the world looks at us and they see the panic in us that they see in everybody else, that should be a red flag. That should be a warning to us.
David: Yeah, and it doesn't mean you can't struggle. As long as you are on earth in a post-Genesis 3 world, we are going to struggle. The difference is, we have to raise our hand and say, "I'm struggling and I don't like it and I don't think it's normal for a guy who says he believes that Jesus died and rose from the dead and who believes that Jesus is coming back to get me. I don't know that it's normal for me to struggle that way."
Maybe not normal. "I don't know that it's what God would have for me. So I want to confess that as sin, potentially. I want to confess my doubts. I want to pray like the guy who pleaded for Jesus, _ "I believe; help my unbelief!" _
Blake: _ "I believe; help my unbelief!" _
David: Yes, "Help me grow in my ability to trust you, Lord, in the midst of coronaviruses." Because this won't be the last coronavirus that hits our lives. There's going to be more.
Blake: I love the compassion we see in Jesus in John 11. The first Bible verse I memorized. I'm sure you did too. _ "Jesus wept." _ But I do love the empathy there, that he acknowledges the reality of the pain and the hurt of suffering. We're going to study in 1 Thessalonians, which we're studying as a church right now, where Paul even acknowledges that, "Hey, even in death… As believers we grieve, but we grieve as those who have hope. We don't grieve as those who have no hope."
Well, David, thank you. Man, this has been fun. I wish we could spend more time doing this. What I want to encourage you at home to do is… I'm going to give you an assignment. Because there's so much more we wanted to unpack with you today, we're going to put passages of Scripture up on the screen.
I would encourage you, grab a pen and a piece of paper, and just write down these passages. Then together as a family or with your Community Group or friends or just even time alone with God and his Word, look up each one of these passages. You'll see that each one of them has one thing in common. Each one of the refers to the blood of Christ.
You see, Christ's blood was shed for your sake and my sake. We cannot appreciate Good Friday or Easter until we stop and really reflect on the significance of his broken body and shed blood. So Watermark, listen. We talk about this all the time. Being away from you and communicating to you solely through a screen, not seeing you on the weekends, not worshipping with you throughout the week, studying God's Word with you, meeting with you… It's hard.
I'm feeling the effects. I miss you. We love you, and we want to serve you in any way we can. If today for the first time you're understanding the significance of the cross and how you can have a relationship with Jesus Christ and we can help you, please reach out to us. We'd love nothing more than to dialog with you. So please contact us.
If we can pray for you, you can just send us a prayer request at email@example.com. We'd love to follow up with you and serve you in any way we can. So just use firstname.lastname@example.org. Reach out to us. Let us know how we can pray for you. Let us know if you want to know how you can have a relationship with Jesus Christ. David, thanks, man, for your time. Would you mind just closing us in prayer? We'll wrap up with that.
David: Love to. Love to.
Father, we do want to just pause on this Good Friday and acknowledge that the only reason we can say with any shred of confidence that this Friday is good is because you have given us eyes to see the beauty of what is coming in a couple of days. You raised your Son from the dead. You conquered death. You have defeated sin. You have defeated our Enemy who wants to steal, kill, and destroy.
I pray that from my heart, I pray for the hearts of those who are watching, that we would sit in the darkness of Good Friday and we would meditate on the enormous cost of our salvation. That had we been there, we would've been the ones mocking and taunting. We would've been the ones who so fickly on Sunday put down branches and on Friday yelled, "Crucify him!" Just help us come to terms with that reality.
Father, thank you that you have put your light into our hearts. You have taken our blinders off and you have allowed us to see the beauty of your Son, the significance of his death, and the hope that is found in Jesus. I pray for anyone who is watching right now who doesn't have that confidence, who is not familiar with the story, who has not put their trust and their faith in the finished work of Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins that you would this day, this moment, bring them into the family so that they could say with confidence that Friday is good because of what it produced.
God, for those who don't know you, I pray that you would put on them an overwhelming sense of their sin and the conviction of the Spirit would weight them down, would eat at their bones, would cause such a discontent that they couldn't sleep, that they would be unsatisfied with food, with anything else this world has to offer. That you would bring them to your Son.
Father, thank you for your Word, which is living and active. I pray that we would be in it first and most. I pray that it would do its work in our hearts. For those who know you and who are struggling, I pray that you would provide comfort and peace and you would remind us of your great care, your great love for us. You're not mad. You're not put out with us when we struggle with a recurring things. I pray that you would bring us to repentance. Help us to lean heavily on community.
Father, thank you for Good Friday. Thank you for the death, the torture, the murder of your Son so that we could be brought near. We trust you. We believe. Would you help increase our trust and increase our belief this day and each day going forward? In Jesus' remarkable name, amen.
Blake: Amen. Well, thanks again friends for joining us on this Good Friday, this great Friday. We would encourage you to tune in for Easter. Invite your friends to join us for that. Again, if there is any way in which we could serve you, we'd love to know that. Have a great week of worship.
Here are some Scriptures for you to read and reflect on the significance of Good Friday: Romans 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:13; 1 John 1:7; Colossians 1:20; 1 Peter 1:17-19; and Hebrews 9:12-14.