Almighty God, we beseech you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the Cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen
THEY COME IN THREES
by Margo Martin Rhodes
When Mike asked me to write a devotional for Holy Week, I immediately said yes. When he asked me to take Good Friday, I was inwardly less enthusiastic because it’s already all been said. There are no new crucifixion day revelations to share. But, in all seriousness, someone has to do it, so I reluctantly stuck with the yes. And then my computer weighed in by literally converting the letters of my saved composition into symbols that made no sense whatsoever… not once, but twice… and this has been the journey:
The first Good Friday devotional I wrote was simply stating that there have been almost 2000 Good Fridays observed since the actual crucifixion of Christ. In some parts of the world there are parades of bleeding self-scouragers. Closer to home, flowers are removed from altars, candles extinguished, crosses draped in black, and music sobered. Like all profound scriptural truths, like every Good Friday, and like the text of a great hymn, there is power in the repetition. While the story is unchanging, it constantly changes us, draws us closer, deepens our sorrow, increases our joy.
The second Good Friday devotional I attempted compared and contrasted the accounts of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 with the crucifixion of our Lord in the gospels. Both revolved around the willingness to sacrifice a son. Both used a donkey for transportation. Both required the sons carry the wood on which they would be sacrificed. Both involved an instrument of piercing, though Isaac was not actually pierced. Both displayed extraordinary obedience. Abraham was able to sacrifice a ram the Lord provided as a substitute for Isaac. Our Heavenly Father sacrificed Jesus, the Lamb He provided, as a substitute for us. God not only used the prophets of old to help us see the truth of His Word, He gave us this actual foreshadowing so that our faith could run deep and confident. There is even scholarly speculation that Mount Moriah, where Abraham took Isaac for sacrifice, may be the same Golgotha, or Calvary, where Jesus was sacrificed. And that, too, was turned to gibberish by my computer.
This is a third and final attempt at a Good Friday devotional at the request of our good friend, Mike of mikesbikes.fun. At this point, the Biblical significance of the number three is hitting home as it is used repeatedly in scripture to group people or days or events, or to signify harmony, completion, or newness of life. My personal Good Friday resting place, and I pray yours, is in gratitude. Thank you, Lord, for every display of “the sacred head now wounded,” for every retelling of the mockery and torture endured by our Saviour, for sparing us that which we deserve because “Jesus paid it all,” for the “sorrow and love” that “flowed mingled down,” for the thief saved at the bitter end when bitterness turned sweet, and for the knowledge and repentance that fell upon the earth when Jesus gave up the ghost.
In the words of Paul Gerhardt (1607-1676), translated by James Alexander (1804-1859), most often sung as a final verse of the Passion Chorale by Hans Lee Hassler (1564-1612) and harmonized by J.S. Bach (1685-1750):
What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow, thy pity without end,
O make me Thine forever! and should I fainting be,
Lord let me never, never outlive my love for Thee.
Margo Rhodes currently lives in Austin, TX.