“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” -Ephesians 2:4-5
When you’re in the midst of loss, death, or dramatic change that you don’t want, it is so difficult to say, “Lord, I trust the resurrection power.”
Nevertheless, as the cliché says, “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” Jesus is made alive in everyone because he was willing to die (the closed door). Then, in the resurrection (the open window), Christ becomes alive in the hearts of everyone who believes in his name, and that is awesome.
The Paschal Mystery – the Christian concept that no matter who or what dies, there’s always resurrection – deals with death in a way that the world traditionally doesn’t. A believing Christian doesn’t like death, or loss, or change, but when death comes, he or she knows that resurrection is not far behind.
An Easter BBC program that suggested Mary Magdalene was married to Jesus Christ has been described as “highly provocative” by a bishop.
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali criticized the program, which was broadcast on Good Friday, saying the timing was when “Christians are thinking about Christ on the cross.”
He added that the show has references to Jesus “being kissed on the mouth by Mary Magdalene and it refers to her being his wife.”
He said: “It is highly provocative in terms of its content for Christians on Good Friday and it attempts to sexualize Christ in the most offensive way.”
The Mystery of Mary Magdalene was broadcast on BBC 1 on Good Friday at 12 p.m. GMT, and was fronted by Melvyn Bragg.
The program looked at a series of Gnostic gospels—writings that are not part of the Bible. Bishop Nazir-Ali commented: “I am concerned about the misuses of very obscure Gnostic gospels to impugn the integrity of the Bible.”
He also expressed concern that Christians who believe the Bible were not given any sort of response to the claims of the programme.
For Christians, this is the greatest time of year—Good Friday, when we remember Christ’s death for our sins, and Resurrection Sunday, when He rose from the dead! We close Charisma Media to commemorate Good Friday.
On this special day, I dug into the archives and found this special article by my late friend and mentor, Jamie Buckingham. Share it and let me know what you think:
It was here, early one morning, that Jesus stood and shouted across the water to His friends in a fishing boat. “Catch anything?”
Peter recognized His voice, jumped overboard and swam to shore. It had been several weeks since Jesus had risen from the grave. He kept appearing and disappearing. By the time the other fishermen got to shore, Jesus and Peter had a fire going and breakfast was almost ready.
What followed was one of the most personal and poignant encounters in the Bible. Pulling Peter aside, Jesus predicted the kind of death he was going to die: “When you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18, NIV).
It was a disturbing prediction. Peter was going to be crucified. Peter’s reaction was similar to the way many of us react when we get a glimpse into the future of unpleasant things—we divert attention away from ourselves to someone else.
Pointing at John, Peter asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus’ response was instant. “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:22).
Like all of us, Peter was hoping for a guarantee of long life. He didn’t like the possibility of early death—especially if it included suffering. He wanted to hold to all the healing verses of the Bible but omit the verses about Christians having to suffer if they follow Jesus.
I understand that feeling. Last summer, I emerged from my healing experience with cancer feeling invincible. Almost immortal. The doctors had told me I was going to die, but God intervened.
I not only survived—I was healed. But I didn’t get what I really wanted: a guarantee the cancer would never return. That is the heart of Jesus’ response to Peter: “God allows no guarantees. He does not want you to walk by knowledge—but by faith. “I alone control the length of a man’s days,”
Jesus told Peter. “How long John lives is none of your business. You must follow Me.” Following Jesus means risky living. God, however, is far more interested in what we become than whether we reach the goal.
In fact, the goal is really found in the following—not the arriving. That, sadly, goes cross-grain to the American concept of success. But God is more interested in building our faith than providing mental security.
The new cancer, pressing on my spine, caused pain in my hip and leg. I finally reached the place where I couldn’t stand upright in the bathroom to brush my teeth. Instead I had to lean back against the wall.
Reluctantly, I started radiation treatments. Within two weeks, the pain was almost gone. It was a good sign. The tumor was shrinking. Then, three weeks later as I was completing the treatments, I developed a new set of pains in my back and leg. The doctor reminded me it could be “good pain.”
The nerves damaged by the tumor could be regenerating, But there were no guarantees. “Father,” I prayed, “I’m in trouble. I need Your help,” He answered gently. “Would you call on Me for help if you were not hurting?”
Why does God ask rhetorical questions? He already knew how prone I was to become self-sufficient the moment I began to feel better. “I don’t like it when you hurt,” He said softly, “but I do like it when you ask Me to help you.”
Corrie ten Boom once told me that as a child she had asked her father when God would give her the courage to be a martyr for Jesus. Her wise father replied, “When you take a train trip from Harlem to Amsterdam, I give you the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”
And so it is with God’s strength. Today you do not need the strength to be a martyr, but as soon as you are called upon for the honor of facing death for Jesus, He will supply the strength you need—just in time.”
Most of us are like Peter. We want to follow Jesus on our own terms. And we always like to know where we’re going before we start. God, however, does not reveal the future, He reveals Himself.
From 1979 until his death, Jamie Buckingham (1932-1992) wrote the “Last Word” column forCharisma magazine, which originally published this article. He was the editor of Ministry Todaymagazine at his untimely death in February 1992—21 years ago.
I once visited a man in jail who had wrecked his life with drugs and had stolen money from work. He talked a lot about Jesus and the Bible.
On my way out, one of the guards said to me sarcastically, “Everybody in here believes in Jesus, especially around parole time.”
The two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus had no hope of a lighter sentence. They were goners. Crucifixion ended in only one way – you died. “Getting religion” wouldn’t get you out of that. Initially both robbers were spewing out hatred toward Jesus along with the mocking crowd (Mt. 27:44). But something suddenly happened to one of them. While his life was slowly and painfully draining out of him, Jesus worked a miraculous change in him.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
How did this happen? Was it hearing Jesus forgive his torturers? Was it seeing “This is the King of the Jews” above Jesus’ head? Was it watching Jesus’ tender care for his mother even while he was racked with pain? Whatever it was, Jesus worked an 11th-hour miracle and did the following things in him:
He realized he was a sinner who needed a Savior. He admitted he deserved what he was getting. “We are receiving the due reward of our deeds.”
He began to fear God. “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation?”
He saw Jesus to be perfect. “This man has done nothing wrong.”
He called upon Christ personally. Philip Ryken says that this is the only time in the gospels anyone called him “Jesus.” Usually they called him “Teacher” or “Master.”
He acknowledged Jesus as King and asked him to save him – “Remember me when you come into your kingdom.” He knew there was a life after this one, an eternal kingdom where Jesus would rule as King.
What a good Friday it turned out to be for him – his last Friday was his best. For Jesus answered him,“Today you will be with me in Paradise.” It’s being with Jesus that makes heaven paradise. Heaven without Christ wouldn’t be heaven. It is “in your presence” that there is fullness of joy. Being with Jesus and seeing his glory is the joy of heaven.
Today, on “Good Friday,” if you’re a believer, join me in praising Jesus for his miraculous power that saved us. He opened our eyes to see we were sinners headed for hell. Showed us that he is the Sinless Savior. Moved us to fear him and call on his name, Jesus. He became our King. On top of all that, we’ll be with him and enjoy him forever. Good Friday is indeed a good day.
And don’t give up praying for family members and friends, for Jesus has saved many in the 11th hour. It’s never too late for Jesus to snatch someone from the jaws of hell. No one’s ever too far gone for his mighty arm to save. I’ve had the privilege of seeing several people over the years come to Christ on their deathbeds, in a large part due to the faithful prayers and witnessing of their family members.
I really want you to hear today what the good news is all about. It would be a great tragedy for
you to come to this service and for me not to very simply and in a down-to-earth way explain why the Gospel is the good news. That word, gospel, in the first verse means good news. Put that in the margin
of your Bible. The Gospel is the good news. In these verses of Scripture the Word of God tells us
exactly what the good news is all about.
In verse 3 he says that “Christ died for our sins.” When I was a boy I used to wonder why
they referred to the Friday before Easter Sunday, the day the Lord was supposedly crucified, as Good
Friday. What would be the good news about somebody dying? You and I know that the death of the
Lord Jesus is good news because this verse tells us “Christ died for our sins.” It’s good news to know
that we have a Savior who died on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins. So, the Gospel is
the good news that Christ died for our sins.
Notice in verse 4 he says, “and that He was buried.” It is also good news that Jesus Christ was
buried and that for three days and nights His body was in the tomb. The burial of Jesus is the good
news that Christ has not only paid the price for our sins, but just as He was buried in a tomb our sins
have been put away, they have been buried. That’s why when I was a teenager we used to sing the
“Gone, gone, gone, yes my sins are gone. Now, my sins are gone and in my heart’s
a song. Buried in the deepest sea, yes, that’s good enough for me. I shall reign
with Him eternally. Praise God, my sins are gone.”
So, it’s good news that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is good news that Jesus Christ’s
body was buried in the tomb. Look at the 4th verse again and see what kind of punctuation mark you
have after the statement, “He was buried.” Verse 4 says, “and that He was buried,…” What’s the
punctuation mark in your Bible after the word, buried? Is it a period or a comma? It is a comma. If it
was a period, there wouldn’t be any good news that Jesus died and that He was buried.
I served two years as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. During those years the
movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, came out. It was a rather controversial movie because of its
blasphemy. The producers invited me to come to New York City for a pre-showing of the movie. I
didn’t go; I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to stick your head in a garbage can to know it
smells. To be truthful, I’ve never gotten all excited about Hollywood portraying the Bible. I just about
as soon hear the Mafia lecture on honesty.
The tragedy of the movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, (an …
ROME — Thousands of people holding candles turned out at Rome’s Colosseum to see Pope Francis mark the first Good Friday of his pontificate with a traditional “Way of the Cross” procession around the ancient amphitheatre.
Francis, who was elected on March 13, sat under a red canopy on Rome’s Palatine Hill as representatives of the faithful from around the world alternated carrying a wooden cross on the day Christians commemorated Jesus’s death by crucifixion.
“Sometimes it may seem as though God does not react to evil, as if he is silent,” the Argentine pope said, speaking slowly in Italian and in a sombre voice at the end of the evening service.
“And yet, God has spoken, he has replied, and his answer is the Cross of Christ: a word which is love, mercy, forgiveness. It is also reveals a judgment, namely that God, in judging us, loves us,” he said.
“Christians must respond to evil with good,” he said, urging them to beware “the evil that continues to work in us and around us”.
The meditations for the 14 “stations of the cross” which commemorate events in the last hours of Jesus’s life – from when Pontius Pilate condemned him to death to his burial in a rock tomb – were written by young people from Lebanon.
The wooden cross was passed from one group and person to another – including a person in a wheelchair. Those who carried it came from Italy, India, China, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon and Brazil.
Several of the meditations, read by actors, referred to conflict in the Middle East and the suffering of its people.
One meditation called the Middle East “a land lacerated by injustice and violence”.
Francis praised those Lebanese Christians and Muslims who tried to live together and who, he said, in doing so gave a sign of hope to the world.
Prayers were read our for exploited and abused children, refugees, the homeless and victims of religious intolerance, war, violence, terrorism, poverty, injustice and drug addiction.
There were also prayers against abortion and euthanasia.
Good Friday is the second of four hectic days leading up to Easter Sunday, the most important day in the Christian liturgical calendar.
On Holy Thursday, two young women were among 12 people whose feet the pope washed and kissed at a traditional ceremony in a Rome youth prison, the first time a pontiff has included females in the rite.