2Chronicles 7:14 "I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
2017 continues to be an event-filled year. We have the first President elected who came with no political experience, who won an election that no one could have predicted. We have a House, Senate and Supreme Court tilted back towards Republican if not conservative. With the retaliation against Syria and destruction of most of their jets, America reclaims its position of a global defender against evil. And God was brought back into conversation, with our President defying convention at his inauguration by inviting six religious leaders to speak, with multiple prayers made in the name of Jesus Christ.
President Trump’s inauguration speech contained more reference to the God of the Bible than any President in recent history. Just before quoting Psalm 133:1, the President said “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.” Peter Manseau, author of ‘One Nation under Gods: A New American History’, interpreted Trump’s speech as “a desire to fuse the language of faith and nation”, calling Trump’s quote “an echo of the far more common turn of phrase ‘open your heart to Jesus.’”
But 2017 also continues to be filled with horrible evil around the globe: 22-year old Dylann Roof was sentenced to death in January for the mass murder of 9 black church members during a Bible study in Charleston, SC; a lone terrorist attack on Westminster bridge in London in March ended with 5 people murdered and 50 injured; in April, Syrian dictator Assad murdered at least 70 civilians, many little children, with a chemical attack while they slept in their homes; and just this past week, ISIS bombed Egyptian Christian churches, murdering at least 47 people as they worshipped during Palm Sunday. I am only highlighting four of the atrocities since January – there have been many more.
Yet, with all the horrible events taking place around us, it might be easy for some to miss the fact that yesterday celebrated a day in history that remains, since its original event in 32AD, the second greatest day in the history of the world. In fact, those who claim it as their holiday call it “Good Friday”. It is the Christian commemoration of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. How can such a dark event, the intense suffering and death of an innocent man on a cross, be a good thing?
In his early letter to the church in Corinth, a Roman-controlled city in Greece, the apostle Paul wrote in 55AD that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was considered to be “of first importance” because His death on the cross was not because of something Jesus did wrong – His death was the payment for the sins of mankind (1Corinthians 15:3). Since we would all agree that the four examples above qualify as sins, the Jesus Christ died for those as well? So, this is the reason for “Good” Friday?
To answer this question, we have to understand what Paul also meant in 1Corinthians 15:3 when he said that Jesus died for our sins “according to the Scriptures.” Since the New Testament had not been put together yet, Paul was referring to the Old Testament. And starting in the first book of Genesis all the way through the last book of Malachi (about 1400BC – 450BC), God explains through His prophets that His desire is to reconcile Himself to mankind. “Reconcile” is filled with deep meaning: in the world of financial accounting, we reconcile two accounts by making the numbers in one account match the other. This is done through payments, where one party reckons the necessary figures to harmonize the two accounts.
This is the exact language Paul uses in his second letter to the Corinthian church: “God was in Christ, reckoning the world to Himself, not reckoning their sins to them…” (2Corinthians 5:19). So through the Cross, our sins are not reckoned to our account, but are reckoned to Christ’s account. In our verse for this week, God promised He will forgive our sin. He accomplishes this through the payment of Jesus Christ’s death on the Cross. Now anyone has access to His free gift of forgiveness because all of our sins have been transferred to Christ’s account! My sins, your sins, the sins of Assad, the sins of Dylann Roof, all of mankind’s’ sins, were paid for by the willing sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This is the very, very good thing about “Good Friday” – God kept His promise by providing the way for any of us to be reconciled back to Him as our personal Father who created us and desires we spend eternity with Him in heaven.
But in any reconciliation, each account has something to do. Jesus Christ has done all the heavy lifting – He performed all the necessary work for reconciliation. Now, your part is straightforward – to receive the free gift God is offering you: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…” (Acts 16:31).
Ed Croteau is a resident of Lee’s Summit and hosts a weekly study in Lees Summit called “Faith: Substance and Evidence.” He can be reached with your questions through the Lee’s Summit Tribune at Editor@lstribune.net.