How do you view your situation you are currently in? Does it make sense and can you see there is a way forward? For the followers of Jesus, there was an incredible and overwhelming sense of loss and despair on Easter Friday. The man they had been following for three years had been unfairly judged, crucified and was lying dead in a tomb. Their dreams died with Jesus.
When watching a Good Friday sermon by Stephen Furtick I was challenged to look at the above questions. I have been encouraged to read this part of the Gospel in a new light and seek God's perspective on my situation through this story. As I have done this, it has changed how I see the world and is setting me free of the fear that is caused by the impossible or tough situations I am in.
The first idea is that we can celebrate Friday because we know what happened on Sunday. We can actually celebrate the death of Jesus on Good Friday. The disciples could not. For many of us, we celebrate that Christ died for us. Why is this a celebration? Through reading the Old Testament, we understand Christ came to die for us. For the followers of Jesus, it was a huge shock even though it was prophesied and Jesus warned them. Their dreams did not include Jesus dying on the cross. Why did they not understand? I do not think I would have comprehended the huge thing Jesus was sent to do If I was a disciple. His plan was totally outside the thinking of John the Baptist, the disciples and anyone who knew Jesus. We are often so closed in our thinking about who God is and how His plans are beyond our comprehension. His ways are well beyond us. We think too small!
33 Who could ever wrap their minds around the riches of God, the depth of his wisdom, and the marvel of his perfect knowledge? Who could ever explain the wonder of his decisions or search out the mysterious way he carries out his plans?
34 For who has discovered how the Lord thinks or is wise enough to be the one to advise him in his plans?
“Who has ever first given something to God that obligates God to owe him something in return?”
36 And because God is the source and sustainer of everything, everything finds fulfilment in him. May all praise and honour be given to him forever! Amen! (Romans 11:33-36 TPT)
This leads us to the second idea. We cannot get to Sunday until we have experienced Friday. For the 11 disciples and the followers of Jesus, they had to get through the death of Jesus to encounter the resurrection. The death was a set-up for the stone being rolled away and Jesus finishing what He had come to Earth to do. There was no way they could have understood God's great plan without walking through it and experiencing it for themselves. Mary Magnaline is a very interesting person in this whole story. She had 7 demons cast out by Jesus and was a rich lady who financed much of Jesus' ministry. In Mark 15:45-47 we read:
45 So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph.46 Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb.47 And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid.
Mary was not only at the cross and watched Jesus die, but she was also one of the small group of followers who watched the body of Jesus being laid in the "borrowed" tomb. She watched her Saviour being killed and his dead body placed in what she thought was a "permanent" place of rest. Mary accepted the death of Jesus. Her dreams for what Jesus was going to do and how He was going to change the world through His followers died with Jesus. Only a resurrection could fulfil what Jesus had been teaching them about the Kingdom of God.
The final ideas stem from Mary's experience at the grave where Jesus was buried. It is very interesting that Jesus first appeared to someone who had watched him be buried. Her dreams had died and she had no hope. Most people stop at the loss and give in to fear. Despite her grief and loss, she went to the tomb as soon as she could and encountered her risen Lord. She was able to take this back to the disciples who did not believe her. The person who witnessed the burial of Jesus and saw her dreams die was able to witness the greatest miracle in history. When our dreams are completely dead we are in a position to experience the new dreams God is preparing for us. Death has to come before new life.
So why is viewing Friday from Sunday's perspective so important? When we view what happened on Friday from our understanding of Sunday it all makes sense. We can relax knowing that He has already planned what will happen. Jesus is calling us to witness the death of our dreams. This death is painful and in this pain, it is so easy to be caught frozen like a dear caught in the headlights. What should we do? How do we deal with the death of the things that were essential in our lives and we based the meaning of our lives on? The death of these things has brought incredible pain, uncertainty and fear. Here are some ideas:-
Do not let fear have the final say in your story. Allow God to take you to Sunday to view your situation in light of the resurrection. As you do, grieve the death but be expectant that the death had to come to allow the new thing He has planned to happen. Move on to Sunday.
Understand what faith is. It is facing Friday! I can face it because I know what comes next! God will receive glory from the situation.
Accept death as part of the process. Without death, there is no resurrection. Grieve, mourn, pour your heart out to God and be real in the death. But do not grieve as one without hope.
Be ready for the resurrection - The thing that died was possibly good, but be ready for the amazing thing that will happen through the death. There is something better coming!
When thinking about perspective, there is an interesting story told by Peter Scazzero in his book "Emotionally Healthy Spirituality" (p.110). He tells the story of a wise man who lived in one of China's vast frontiers.
One day, for no apparent reason, a young man's horse ran away and was taken by nomads across the border. Everyone tried to over consolation for the man's bad fortune, but his father, a wise man, said, "What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?"
Months later, his horse returned, bringing with her a magnificent stallion. This time everyone was full of congratulations for the son's good fortune. But now his father said, "What makes you so sure this isn't a disaster?"
Their household was made richer by this fine horse the son loved to ride. But one day he fell off his horse and broke his hip. Once again everyone covered their consolation for his bad luck, but his father said: "What makes you so sure this is not a blessing?". A year later nomads invaded across the border, and every able-bodied man was required to take up his bow and go int battle. The Chinese families living on the border lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did father and son survive to take care of each other.
What appeared like a blessing and success has often turned out to be a terrible thing. What appeared to be a terrible event has often turned out to be a rich blessing.
As we understand who God is, we learn to view things no longer from the world's perspective but trust God that no matter what the circumstance is, He will come through and cause His plans and purpose to happen that ultimately bring glory to Him. We are His children and His desire is for us to grow up and represent Him on the Earth, bringing His creation to once more function as He has designed it to and to redeem all creation under Him again.
Yes, you may be situated on Friday at the moment. Allow your dreams to die and watch the stone being rolled over the tomb. Mourn and be real during this time. Remember, though, that you have the benefit of seeing your situation from the perspective of Sunday. Keep moving forward to experience the plans of God for your life that are beyond anything you could think or imagine. God is a good Father. Trust Him and no longer live in and be controlled by fear. The resurrection is just around the corner!!
Key Bible Verses:
1 Peter 3:18 - 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, (This is the process Jesus is taking us - dying to the flesh and becoming alive in the spirit.)
Colossians 1:13-14 - 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (When we operate in God's Kingdom things happen the King's way and not our own. We have to accept that He is King and His ways are the best)
Colossians 1:21 - 22 - 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He hasreconciled22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. (The process is to make us more holy and enable to become more intimate in our relationship with Jesus)
Colossians 1:15-18 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.16 Forby Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or[e]principalities or[f]powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.17 And He is before all things, and in Him, all things consist.18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. (When we understand who Jesus is, we understand He has all authority. All things were made through Him and for Him. There are no other )
James 1:2-4 - 2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (The world says the trials are bad, but the deep growth in character and godliness can only come through trials)