Tag Archives: Good Friday

What Does The Cross Mean To You?

The journey to the top of Calvary must have been difficult.  Jesus was exhausted as he carried the weapon of his demise all the way up Calvary.  He’d been beaten.  He’d been mocked.  Yet he endured the pain of that brutal cross.

For me.  For you.  For the sins of the world.

Since the day Jesus was nailed to the cross, it has become more than a tool for execution.  For me it is a reminder of forgiveness, how much I’m loved, and the tool used to redeem my brokenness.  To others the cross is just art, something to look at.  But as you can see from the pictures I took during my recent trip to Guatemala, even when the cross is represented artistically, it can still mean something.

Earlier this month we celebrated Christ’s death on the cross.  I posted these pictures and asked my followers what the cross means to them.



A reason to love others.

But then one of my friends said this, “it’s something I don’t like.  I gets in the way of everything I want to do.”

I agree with him.  The cross is beautiful and it sets us free from our sins, but it also messes up our lives.  Christ made the ultimate sacrifice for us and so how can we not sacrifice when Christ asks us to?

So, what does the cross mean to you?  And a little deeper, what do you think Christ is asking of you?

I hope everyone posting this almost a month after easter isn’t too late.  But then, I guess, the cross is always relevant.


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The Garden

by Michael J. Klassen

They were his last moments of freedom, of eternity clothed in flesh. He had already eaten his final supper with his 12 disciples and washed their feet. How would Jesus spend his remaining moments?

“Let’s go pray,” he said to his closest friends. So, Jesus returned to the Garden.

Returned? you ask.

Two weeks ago, I submitted some thoughts about Adam and Eve in the garden. In the beginning, history’s first couple lived in the garden of Eden—and in the cool of the day, they enjoyed going on relaxing walks with God. Communion for them consisted not of bread and wine, but of unhindered communication with their God.

Then we read in Genesis 3:8 that Adam and Eve hid themselves from their Creator while he was looking for them to set out on another walk. Their sin created a wall of separation between them and God. And one of the consequences of their sin was expulsion from the intimacy of the garden.

The Old Testament prophets spoke directly to this separation from God: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

Fast forward to Good Friday (which, according to the Hebrew calendar, begins at sundown on the previous night). In his final remaining hours, Jesus returned to the garden. He returned because as a member of the Trinity, Jesus walked with Adam and Eve via his inclusion with the Father and Spirit.

Although none of the accounts in the Gospels record it, I can’t resist speculating that somewhere in his conversation with his heavenly Father, Jesus said something like this:

Daddy, do you remember the walks we used to take with Adam and Eve? As the sun began setting in Eden in the cool of the day, we bared our hearts with them, and they bared their hearts with us. Do you remember?

And then it all changed. After eating from the tree in the garden, they suddenly grew ashamed of their nakedness. Their sins created a wall between us and them. How I miss those conversations.

So here I stand in the garden again—prepared to undo what has been done.

After he finished praying, the soldiers appeared and escorted him first to a Jewish trial, then a Roman trial, and finally, down the crowded but lonely Via Dolorosa to the cross.

Lastly, on that first Good Friday, we read:

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. Matthew 27:50–51 (NIV)

The curtain was torn.

Once again, the curtain that separated humanity from communion with God was irreparably torn in two. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, our sins were once-and-for-all forgiven, and we were given access to enjoy unhindered communion with God.

Just like Adam and Eve enjoyed with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in the Garden.

Today’s readings: Matthew 26:36-56; John 18:13-19:16; Luke 23:26-49; Mark 15:42-47.

If you don’t have plans for celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning–and you live in the Denver area–we invite you to worship with us at The Neighborhood Church. We meet every Sunday morning at 10:00am at Dakota Ridge High School.


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This Day in History: A Meal Fit For a King–and You

By Eugene C. Scott

My eyes didn’t know what to fix on, so they darted from one delight to another. Oh, this is wonderful–but too much. Delightful, but I should have given Solome more guidance. The Master will . . . he will what? You may call me double-minded with my wonder and worry together crashing over me in waves. But you were not there. You never tried to serve the Master, to please him. I was never good at guessing what went on in that mind of his. When I looked for his praise, he chided me and when I knew I had failed him, his eyes spread patient love over the hole my hope had escaped from.

But this was too much. Little did I know that a sumptuous feast was the least of our worries.

Lamb, and bread, hyssop, herbs–bitter and sweet, jars of wine, fish, and candies sagged the long tables. This is a meal fit for a king, not our Master. I rubbed my hands together but I could not otherwise move. They would be here in moments. Dozens of oil lamps bound in iron to the walls burned softly, lighting the low ceiling with rich gentle arcs.

“You like it, Ruben?” A familiar voice touched me from behind. I turned.

“Solome, how did you do all this?” I asked kissing her cheeks. “The Master will . . . Is this what the Master asked for?” Solome had not prepared a simple Passover meal but a lush Roman style Reclinium. Pillows rimmed the low tables ready for our guests to lounge and rest on as they feasted. Table cloths covered the rough wooden boards.

“Who knows?” Solome said with a shrug of narrow shoulders. “He said to prepare the Upper Room. And I have done so. He was not more specific.” She swung her arm across the room.

“But the cost,” I complained looking at the dozens of candles burning on the tables. “He will surely say we spent too much and should have given all this to the poor.”

Solome rolled her eyes. “The poor. We are giving this to him. No one has less then the Master.”

My feet, dancing beneath me, carried me around the room. Just then voices, loud and laughing, filled the house below. And up the stairs came Peter and John. The Master, Jesus followed them. Then all the disciples streamed in and filled the room with noise and odor and expectation. Over a hundred of them. He surveyed the room. I clenched my eyes.

“Master, I’m sorry,“ I shouted. “You know Solome. Extravagance is her real name.”

I know, it was low of me to blame her. Can you honestly tell me you would have not?

“And yours, my dear Ruben, is Worry.” His whole face widened in a smile.

“Peace,” he called to us. He patted me on the shoulder.

I smiled at how the Master assumed charge, became the host, even in my own house. My worry drained away.

Had I known this was our last meal together, I would have spent my entire estate on this meal. I would have hired guards. I would have . . . .

“Abba,” he prayed lifting the Kiddush Cup and the murmur of voices stilled. “Bless this our meal of Passover. Deliver your people tonight as you did our father, Moses long ago.” He passed the cup and directed us through the keeping and remembering of God’s commands for his people. He never read from the scroll I had provided but spoke from memory. James, his brother corrected him when Jesus gave new meaning to one of the old readings or prayers. Peter nudged James to quiet him.

The Master led us through the Maggid Cup, asking us the Passover questions. He let the children answer first. And we ate. I ran back and forth refilling cups and plates. I never spoke to the Master again that night–never spoke to him again ever.

He blessed the Birkat Hamazon Cup and passed it.

Then the trouble began. And in my house. Lord, forgive me. In the middle of this–I did not see what happened as I was busy serving wine, though you can ask Matthew because he wrote it down, and of course I know now–Judas–how I hate that man–shouted, “Surely not I, Rabbi” and ran from the room. Thomas stood to go after him but stopped under the Master’s gaze. How would the world be different if Thomas had stopped Judas?

At last came the unleavened bread. Jesus began in a whisper, tears in his eyes and we all leaned in to hear about the night, because of the blood of the spotless lamb, God’s angel of death passed over Israel.

He prayed, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Then he said–I didn’t understand it that night–”Take and eat; this is my body.”

He handed the broken bread to John, who had a confused look on his young face. Then Jesus lifted the fourth cup, the Hallel Cup, and blessed it saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s Kingdom. Do this in remembrance of me.”

So, I still have trouble believing it, on Jesus last night in the world, he spent it with me–and you.

And so, thinking it may be the last night of our world, on every Yom Ree-Shon, the first day of the week, (you call it Sunday) we obey the Master and fill the Upper Room, spending it together, serving a Love Feast–though not as lavish as the last supper with Jesus that night. For whenever we eat the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes again–and as he said,  he “will drink it anew” with us.

Read Matthew 26:17-56, Mark 14:12-42, Luke 22:7-46, John 13:1-17:36

Also, go to tnc3.org for info on how The Neighborhood Church is remembering this week in history.

Two thousand years ago this week one man turned history upside down. I would give anything to have been there, seen him, heard his voice. Instead we can only use our imaginations to re-enter ancient history. Each day this week, called Holy Week, we are going look at this day in ancient history through the eyes of a fictional character who witnessed part of that day as Jesus lived it. Join us as we believe a better story: the greatest, truest story ever told.

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He Likes It! Hey Mikey!

If you’re from my generation (boy, I’m sounding old!), you probably remember the Life Cereal commercial. In it, two boys don’t want to eat the bowl of Life Cereal sitting in front of them because it’s supposed to be good for them. So, they pass the bowl of cereal to little Mikey, who really likes it.
How often do we perceive something as bad when it’s really good?

Today, we’re going to take a closer look at a very significant example of this.

If you don’t have plans for celebrating Easter this Sunday and you live in the Denver, Colorado area, please join me at The Neighborhood Church. We meet at 10:00 a.m.

Deuteronomy 21:1-22:30
Luke 9:51-10:12
Psalm 74:1-23
Proverbs 12:11

Deuteronomy 21. Verses 10-14 concern taking a captive woman and marrying her. The Bible Background Commentary explains why she was required to shave her head, among other things:

The shaving of hair, trimming of nails and changing of clothes are symbols of mourning for her father and mother. This may mean only that she mourns her removal from family and homeland. The rituals, therefore, represent a leaving behind of the former homeland, a kind of transition to becoming an Israelite.

The law does seem to give the husband an easy out if he decides he doesn’t like her, which bothers me.
The rights of the firstborn in verses 15-17 recall the story of Jacob and his two wives. If you remember, he loved Rachel but didn’t love Leah. However, the law ensured that the sons of the favorite wife wouldn’t receive preferential treatment regarding inheritance.

Deuteronomy 22. At this point in his address (remember, this is a transcribed sermon), Moses is giving the Israelites a list of miscellaneous laws. Verses 6-7 seem a little out of place: “If you come across a bird’s nest beside the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and the mother is sitting on the young or on the eggs, do not take the mother with the young. You may take the young, but be sure to let the mother go.”

Moses’ words remind us that God is concerned about more than us—he cares about the birds of the air and the grass in the field (Matthew 6:26,30).

At the same time, another principle is at work. In Deuteronomy 20:19, Moses told the people to avoid destroying fruit trees in time of war. The thinking behind these two commands concerns ongoing fruitfulness in the land. Trees need to be free to continue bearing fruit. The mother bird needs to continue giving birth to baby birds.

When we concern ourselves only in the moment, we may be destroying our future resources for provision. And we may destroy our environment as well.

Moses’ instructions about sexual violations in verses 13-30 may seem a little strange, especially the laws regarding rape. The New Bible Commentary explains:

The law makes a distinction between a woman who is engaged and one who is not, in a way that is strange to the modern reader (verses 28–29). This is because marriage laws in Israel were closely related to family and property laws. A man paid the father of his bride a substantial sum for his daughter’s hand (Exodus 22:16–17). When a man rapes or seduces a woman who is not yet engaged, however, there is a simple remedy: he must make her his wife, and pay for the privilege (verse 29).

Luke 9:51-62. The words in verse 51, “Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” is a stylistic device Luke used to make the reader aware that the plot is picking up speed as it moves toward the climax—Jesus’ death and resurrection.

A great deal of animosity existed between the Jews and Samaritans. So much so, that the Samaritans wouldn’t accommodate Jesus if he was on his way to Jerusalem. This section, however, made me laugh. Seemly intoxicated with their newly given authority, Jesus chastised the his disciples. They just didn’t seem to get it.

Next, Jesus clarified to his disciples and other “groupies” that he wanted total commitment. Our family relationships shouldn’t come between us and our commitment to Jesus. Then he tells his listeners, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” When plowing a field, you must look forward in order plow in straight lines. Looking back implies living or yearning for your life “before Jesus.”

Luke 10. In chapter 9, Jesus sent his 12 disciples to further his ministry. Now, in chapter 10, he sends out 72. He sent them out saying, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” I still believe the harvest is plentiful. Unfortunately, too many followers of Jesus have put their hands to the plow but get distracted by looking back.

Proverbs 12:11. For what it’s worth, this proverb actually fits in well with one of today’s themes: “He who works his land will have abundant food, but he who chases fantasies lacks judgment.”

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Today is Good Friday.

All my life I’ve wondered why we don’t call it Bad Friday. How can the crucifixion of Jesus be good? But it is.

Not so coincidentally, today we read an interesting passage in Deuteronomy 21:22-23 that points to Jesus sacrifice on the cross:

If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and his body is hung on a tree, you must not leave his body on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone who is hung on a tree is under God’s curse.

Being hung or impaled on a cross was considered the worst way to die because it combined both unbearable pain and shame. The nature of this public death is probably the reason why it was considered a curse.

Later, the apostle Paul quoted this passage when explaining Jesus’ death on a cross:

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” Galatians 3:14

On Good Friday, two thousand years ago, Jesus bore our pain and shame on the cross. The only person in human history undeserving of this kind of death, he willingly chose to die on our behalf.

If you have a moment, I recommend you take a little time today to remember the price Jesus paid to give you something extremely costly but entirely free.



  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. What does putting your hand to the plow and looking back look like in your life? What prevents you from looking back?
  3. How can we apply Proverbs 12:11 to Luke 9:62 and Luke 10:2?
  4. How have you experienced a Bad Friday turned into a Good Friday?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.


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