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Lessons Learned on this Good Friday

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This post has been a long time coming. I have been thinking about all that I have been learning for a while now, but I just have not had the time to sit down and write it. Good Friday seemed like a perfect time to sit down and get my thoughts together. During the last few months I have been studying through the book of Matthew in Bible Study Fellowship. This week our passage has been walking through the final moments before Jesus was brutally killed for me. However, all of the many things that I have learned started a few months back. I have been encouraged to not just look at passages that are "familiar" and skip over them because, "I've read them a million times." I have been encouraged to sit and study and allow the Lord to speak to me in new ways. He always does. I thought I'd share a few things that have been seen in a new light or have just been encouraging to me over the last couple of weeks.

1. Walk closely. I have looked at Peter in such a new light as I have studied. Hours before he denied Christ and was adamant that he would NEVER walk away from Him. He couldn't believe what Jesus had said claiming, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." (Matthew 26:33) We see Jesus arrested and then taken away. Matthew 26:55 says, "All of the disciples deserted him and fled." Later in verse 58 it says, "Peter followed him at a distance..." This all was leading to Peter's betrayal. I, of course, am not trying to bash Peter. I am Peter so often. However, after Jesus was arrested Peter was scared. Peter followed at a distance and therefore slipped into betrayal. I am really praying that I will walk closely with my Savior so that I am not susceptible to the same thing.

2. We cannot atone for our sins. We see this from Judas. Judas....the jealous, greedy disciple who is known for betraying Jesus. Amazingly, one thing that continues to blow my mind is that Jesus loved Judas. He chose Judas to be one of His closest friends. When they ate that final meal together, Jesus told Judas He knew what he was going to do. In the garden as Judas approached Jesus, Jesus says, "Friend, do what you came to do". He calls him friend and he means it. After Judas betrays Jesus, we see Jesus walk through several trials. Then Judas starts to feel guilty for what he has done. However, he is not feeling convicted....just guilty. Instead of just confessing or allowing Jesus to forgive him he goes to the chief priests and elders and says, "I have sinned. I have betrayed innocent blood." (Matthew 27:4) Judas is trying to go back on what he did and make things right himself. We can't make things right for ourselves. It is only by His blood and His work on the cross that we are atoned for. Praying that I will simply confess and not try to "do" anything to atone for myself.

3. We can't serve two masters. The world and Christ. For Christians, the world fights for our attention daily....moment by moment. Even though we know that Christ is the only thing that will ever satisfy us, we allow the world to slip in and distract us and affect us. I think about Pilate. He knew Jesus was innocent. He was warned. He was scared of Jesus because he knew that there was something different about Him. Pilate felt the tug of the crowd and the tug of his own feelings saying that he was innocent. He tried to reason with the crowd. He tried to release Jesus. The crowd was determined and angry. We see Pilate "wash his hands of the matter" and act cowardly. Pilate was more concerned about what the crowd would think and not about what was right. In Matthew 27:26, "Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified." I pray that I choose Christ. This world truly does not have anything for me. Our notes in BSF said it so nicely, "All Christians who seek to please the Lord will find it impossible to please people and preserve their reputations all the time."

I am so thankful for the cross. I am so thankful for the sacrifice that my Savior made for me. I am thankful this Good Friday, but I am even more thankful that He rose again. Death did not win and the grave has been defeated.

"Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. 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. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

-Isaiah 53