It’s almost Good Friday. If their thoughts aren’t overshadowed by a big fluffy rabbit and decked out eggs, most people tend to think of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which occurred about 2,000 years ago. They might even have a vague notion that it had something to do with the sins of the world.
What many people don’t understand is that Good Friday is a reflection of thousands of years of biblical history, during which God foreshadowed His plan for redemption for mankind through Jesus Christ.
- In the second chapter of the Bible (Genesis 2), after Adam and Eve sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, they tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. God knew this wasn’t adequate clothing, so He killed an animal to cover their nudity and sin. The first animal to ever die died to cover Adam and Eve’s sin.
- In Genesis 22, God tested Abraham, telling him to sacrifice his only and long-awaited son, Isaac. God stopped Abraham before he killed Isaac, instead asking Abraham to sacrifice a ram. Some people believe that Isaac was to be sacrificed on the same hill where Jesus, God’s only Son, was crucified.
- The Jewish people celebrate Passover every spring in remembrance of a time that God sent the angel of death to kill the firstborn son in every household, as a curse on the Egyptians who enslaved the Israelites. Each Israelite household was to sacrifice a spotless lamb, and put its blood on the door post so that the angel of death would pass over that house. Not only did this foreshadow the blood of the sinless Jesus saving us from eternal death, but Jesus actually died during the Passover celebration.
- The Jewish people also celebrate Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement. Years before Jesus was born, the priest would put his hands on a lamb to signify the transfer of the people’s sins to the lamb. It was then sacrificed for the covering of their sins. God has long required the shedding of blood for forgiveness of sins.
- In Isaiah 53, written hundreds of years before Jesus lived, there are dozens of prophecies about the Jewish Messiah, including, “The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.”
- When Jesus was about 30 years old, he met John the Baptist, who had been appointed to announce the imminent ministry of Jesus. John, familiar with God’s ways, said, “Behold the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
- Shortly before Jesus’ death, He and the disciples were eating the Passover meal. There are four cups of wine to be drunk that night. The third cup was in memory of the lamb of Passover, where they were drinking a toast to that lamb that had covered their sins. Jesus changed the meaning of this cup of wine from commemorating the blood of the Passover lamb to commemorating His blood, which would be spilled once and for all for all who would believe Him.
There was a fourth cup of Passover, which Jesus said he wouldn’t drink until He returns again. When Jesus returns, He’s going to come as a conquering king. He will punish those who have not obeyed Him—by repenting (turning from their sins) and trusting God for their eternal welfare—with everlasting destruction (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9).
This Good Friday, I hope you take time to contemplate the meaning of the loving sacrifice Jesus made to forgive your sins—and to decide how you will respond.