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Friday, April 6, 2007

Good Friday

Three crosses

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"Three Crosses"

"When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals--one on his right, the other on his left" (Luke 23:33).

Tom and Marsha are long-time friends of ours in northern Pennsylvania who have a single cross overlooking their property.  When I get within a distance of their house I begin looking for this spiritual landmark.  One of the blessings I have often seen as I travel, particularly in the southern states, are three white crosses placed up on a hill or mountain that can be seen from the highway as a witness to the landowners' faith.  Normally Christians use a single cross as a symbol of their faith but the three crosses also have rich symbolism as a reminder of the three crosses on Mount Calvary.

Jesus hung on the middle cross, vicariously dying for the sins of all mankind.  Two criminals, typical of the human race, hung on crosses on each side of Him. These three crosses  represent:

The cross of rejection. One criminal represents the masses that to the very end rebel against God and reject His plan of redemption.  But rarely is such sneering so openly expressed, and this by a dying man as he hurled insults at Christ.  This criminal is merely expressing the viewpoint of so many that reject God's only remedy for our sin problem; they die in their sins.

The cross of repentance. The other criminal represents those who repent of their sins and place their faith in God.  This criminal came to realize that he and the other lawbreaker deserved the death penalty and spoke rather frankly:  "We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong" (Luke 23:41). His faith is humbly expressed in these words: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Our Lord's dying words brought eternal hope to the repentant criminal as well as spiritual hope to millions through the centuries, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

The cross of redemption.  On the middle cross Christ dies once for all time for all people. "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" (Ephesians 1:7).  "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross" (Colossians 1:19,20). Peter, a witness to these things, stated, "For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust" (1 Peter 3:18a).

This Good Friday let us by faith with thankful hearts accept God's only solution for our sin problem.  Let us faithfully live for the One who died for us.

And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior's blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?

Amazing love! How can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer: Father, thank You for the record in Scripture that makes us more than just curious bystanders during the crucifixion of Your precious Son.  Jesus' recorded conversation with the repentant criminal helps us to see just how immediate redemption for all mankind was being provided through His death on the cross.  Though reflecting on this day brings about grief and sadness as we recall the rejection, pain, and suffering Christ underwent and the darkness that fell upon the earth at His final breath. But I'm so glad we don't have to wait for the rest of the story to unfold.  We know the final outcome and the way of salvation Christ made possible for us.  Thank you, Father, that You loved the world so much that You gave Your one and only Son, that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 

"Good's Store" is a traditional Lancaster County store. Their receipts prior to today had this God-honoring note on each one: "In remembrance that Christ died for us we will be closed on Good Friday"

Today's suggested music:

"And Can It Be" is a classic hymn that I have enjoyed ever since my childhood. I found several interesting online audio versions to share.

A male vocalist from the website of Brennan Ross Uthe

An Instrumental piano arrangement from the website of "The Ranch" 

A traditional church choir version from Good News and Crossway 

"Amazing Love" is a recently written song (we believe in the last ten years or so.) This powerful version features Hiram Joseph, an outstanding Canadian musician
Audio   Video from Willingdon Church in British Columbia, Canada

An older Bill Gaither song that always touches my heart is "I Believe in a Hill called Mount Calvary."  Here's a nice audio version from a church in Dallas, Texas.

Today's final photo has absolutely no relationship to today's message but it sure brought a smile to me!
Thomas engine
I took this photo  yesterday at the Strasburg Railroad in eastern Lancaster County.  As I drove by they were servicing the "Thomas the Tank" engine and had the steam engine fired up!  Here's a photo with the Thomas face on.  For other train lovers like me here's a neat video.

Let me share two more Strasburg train memory photos prompted by this.

Strasburg steam engine
Strasburg Railroad steam engine.

Strasburg steam engine
A ride on the Strasburg railroad was the final outing we had with my Mom prior to her death in 2005.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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