And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. ... When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" (Matthew 27:50-52a, 54)
At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt ... (Pharaoh) summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, "Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said." (Exodus 12:29a, 31)
It was an amazing and terrifying night. Pharaoh went to bed the overlord of a million slaves. By morning he was a bereaved father, and those slaves were free—on their way out of the country to a new and better land.
It was an amazing and terrifying day, that first Good Friday. Satan started it as the oppressor and enslaver of the whole human race. By nightfall he was a dethroned tyrant, and those slaves were free—rescued by the Son of God and delivered into God's kingdom forever.
No wonder the earth shook! No wonder the rocks split! The universe had never seen anything like this—that God Himself would lay down His own life in shame and suffering, killed at the hands of His own creation. Who could have predicted such a thing? What kind of a God is this, who gives up His own life to set His people free?
This is a God who loves us, against all logic and common sense. This is the Son of God who cooked up this whole plan in the counsel of the Trinity, with the Father and the Spirit, one God. His intent has always been to rescue us, ever since we fell into the power of evil way back in the Garden of Eden. And now He has accomplished it—at the cost of His own life.
Sad as this day is, it is a day of rejoicing as well—a truly Good Friday. Because we know what happens next, now that Jesus has set us free. He Himself will be our Leader, now and always—as the crucified and risen Son of God.
THE PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for setting us free. Amen.
* Are there occasions that are both sad and happy for you? When?
* If you were in God's shoes, would you have rescued humanity the way He did? Why or why not?
* Only if you are willing, describe one particular area of your life where you were enslaved—and Jesus set you free.
Lenten Devotions were written by Dr. Kari Vo.
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