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Feeling Out of Control? Lessons from Good Friday

Read This: “Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill, once restitution is made, he will see descendants and enjoy long life, and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.” Isaiah 53:10

Think: As we approach Easter Sunday and enter into a time of reflection, I’m again blown away by all the pieces that fell into place to fulfill the prophecies recorded long before Jesus was born. From the events surrounding his birth, to John the Baptist, to the donkey Jesus used to enter Jerusalem, and ultimately his death on a cross, God used ordinary people to accomplish his extraordinary purpose.

They say clarity comes with hindsight. Surely the disciples had many light bulb moments after Jesus’ death and resurrection, when his teachings about rebuilding the temple and communion made more sense. They were just average guys—they were often confused by Jesus’ messages, they sometimes dared to correct him, they fell asleep during prayer, they got scared, and one of them sold him out in the end and another denied him. We might be tempted to think we would’ve reacted differently, but we’re just people too. And without the benefit of knowing without a doubt that Resurrection Sunday follows Good Friday, how can we really say what we would do?

Jesus on the other hand had been preparing his whole life for what would take place in three days. He understood the prophecies better than anyone. Knowing the horrible physical and spiritual pain he would face speaks all the more of his amazing obedience to the Father and his love for us. He knew that far from being the end of his ministry, his death was to be the climax. But still we see such a human side—he was scared and he felt alone. “Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block, like a sheep silent before her shearers, he did not even open his mouth. He was led away after an unjust trial–but who even cared? Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living; because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded” (Isaiah 53:7-8).

At times we might be tempted to take on the weight of the world—that God depends on us to fulfill his will. But God accomplishes his will often in spite of us, not because of us. Certainly Judas, Pilot, the soldiers who divided Jesus’ clothes, and countless others didn’t even know they were playing significant roles, their actions fulfilling prophecy and proving Jesus was who he claimed to be. That God is God isn’t a license to be lazy or inactive followers of Christ; it’s our privilege and our greatest joy to be on the frontlines of God’s plan for the world.

Instead, let it be an encouragement: when things feel out of control, they’re not. When nothing makes sense to us, there is someone who understands how all the pieces will fit together. God always has and always will accomplish his purpose on Earth and in Heaven regardless of who is on board. That Friday night was the darkest the world has ever known, but Sunday morning came bringing freedom and victory forever.

Ask: One day the crowds laid palm branches before Jesus and sang praises, and less than a week later crowds demanded his crucifixion. What changed? What do you think your reaction would have been if you had been a follower of Jesus that night? Jesus died for you no matter what your reaction would’ve been. What does that mean to you?

Pray: Spend time reading over Jesus’ crucifixion and praying through the verses. What insight does God have in store for you this season? Maybe you are in the midst of your own dark night now. Pray for courage and strength of heart. We are promised a coming glory when all will be made right. Thank Jesus for his obedience and sacrifice that made all of this possible.