This is a copy of my first talk given on Patrick Sherring’s show ‘One 2 Three’ between 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm on Phoenix 98FM on Friday 7 April 2023. You can listen to the show here
I enjoy reading biographies and one of the most memorable books I’ve read is Roy Jenkins’ biography of Winston Churchill (2001) written long before Churchill was acknowledged as Britain’s Greatest Briton. In a biography that is over 900 pages long, only 14 pages are given over to Churchill’s death!
Most biographies talk about the person’s life. That’s because those who influence nations, and the world, are remembered for the impact of their lives. But for the Christian, the most important and influential aspect of Jesus’ life is his death. One third of the first four books of the NT (Gospels) talk about what happened during the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life on what we call Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
But why do we call Good Friday “Good,” when it is remembers such a dark and bleak event? Why not call it “Bad Friday” or “Sorrowful Friday.” But the term Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save us from themselves.
The Bible says that the reason the world is not the way it’s supposed to be is because we are not the way we’re supposed to be. The Bible calls this problem sin. Now sin isn’t a very PC word in our society and the very mention of it may cause some of you to switch off. But whilst we might concede that some people are sinners, you know, the really evil people in the world – murderers, rapists, drug dealers and people traffickers – it certainly doesn’t include us.
We’re basically good people with a few faults here and there. We’re confident that our good points outweigh the bad. And they probably do if we compare ourselves to criminals but not when we compare ourselves to Jesus.
The Apostle Paul, picking up on this theme, wrote: All have sinned and have fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:23). Sin, essentially, is not living the way God wants us to live and how different our world would be if everyone lived to God’s standards of peace and goodwill to all.
The New Testament teaches that if we break any part of God’s Law we are guilty of breaking all of it (James 2:10). It is not possible, for example, to have a ‘reasonably clean’ driving licence. Either it’s clean or it isn’t.
Did you know singer Lionel Richie, as a teenager, as well as being a talented musician. was also an accomplished tennis player and accepted a tennis scholarship to Tuskegee Institute? Did you also know that Richie seriously considered studying divinity to become a priest in the Episcopal Church? He ultimately decided he wasn’t cut out to be a sportsman or a priest and opted for a musical career – in which he has sold over 95 million records and become one of the most successful recording artists of all time – and a multi-millionaire in the process. Guessing he made the right decision!
Anyway, I saw him interviewed by Jeremy Vine, and he was explaining how he came from a very poor background but started to make money out of his singing. And one time it was his father’s birthday, and he gave his father this huge present, and his father was really excited about it.
But as he took off the wrapping paper, he found there was more wrapping paper inside. And then he took off another layer; there was more wrapping paper, and more wrapping paper. And this present just got smaller and smaller and he could see his father’s face starting to fall. Eventually he got to the heart of it, which was just a little tiny piece of paper. And on the piece of paper, it just said this: `All debts paid.’ And his father said, `What, you’ve paid my credit card debt?’ He said, `Yeah, I’ve paid off all your credit cards.’ `Well, what about the car?’ He said, `Yeah, I’ve paid off the car.’ His father said, `Well, what about the mortgage?’ He said, `Yeah, I’ve paid off your mortgage, too’ ‘I’ve paid all your debt’s, your now debt free!’
This is what God has done for us. In his love, he came to earth in Jesus and paid the debt for our sin on the cross and deals with the mess we so often make of our lives, and he changes our lives forever.
That is why Good Friday is good. For Christians, Good Friday is the decisive turning point in the history of the world. The death of Jesus, as horrific as it was, is good news for all of us because the story has a happy ending. And we’ll find out how a little later when I talk about Easter Sunday.
This is the song I chose to follow this talk …