Good Friday brings opportunity appreciate Christ’s sacrifice
By A. Ray Lee
Good Friday falls on April 15 this year, preceding Easter the following Sunday.
It is well known that Easter is a day for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death. Fewer understand that Good Friday focuses on the cross and the suffering of Christ for the sins of the world.
Easter is a joyous occasion, marked by special services of rejoicing and praise. Good Friday is a day for solemn worship, fasting and prayer, acknowledging the supreme sacrifice Jesus made in our behalf.
It was on a Good Friday that, as a hospice chaplain, I visited Mattie, a newly admitted patient.
Neatly clad in a faded cotton dress, she was seated in a chair with a lumpy cushioned bottom and threadbare fabric on its arms. I settled myself in a similar one. Between us was a small scarred table, upon which lay an inexpensive Bible, bearing evidence of much handling.
As she related her story, she told of long days working in the cotton fields alongside her brothers and parents. Those had been hard times, but she found joy in the church. She smiled as she recalled special meetings and the relief and joy she had in worship and fellowship with others.
When she could no longer work in the fields or walk to the church, a compassionate pastor came for her each Sunday so she could attend services.
Now her strength had failed further, and the effort was too much for her.
I glanced at her thick glasses as my eyes came again to the old Bible and wondered if she could see enough to read. I asked her favorite scripture. Without hesitation, she replied, “The 23rd psalm.” Spontaneously, I began to quote the words of David, “The Lord is my shepherd.”
I paused for a moment, and she immediately responded, “I shall not want.” For the next few moments we responsively shared the passage from memory.
When I quoted, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” she confidently replied, “I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”
In a few moments I offered a prayer on her behalf and eased out to other duties awaiting me – but what I had just experienced lingered with me throughout the day.
Mattie had entered the valley overshadowed by death, but she was confident she would not be alone as she passed through it. There was one who had gone before her to lead the way.
Her Fridays would soon be over, but a glorious Sunday was coming.
The words of Paul to the church at Corinth, recorded in I Corinthians 15:55 and 57, took on new meaning for me: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”