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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Black friday stories

Three days ago we experienced a joyful occasion. We gathered with family and friends to fellowship around a table loaded with turkey, stuffing and numerous other wonderfully tasty foods and, when all was said and done, the turkey wasn't the only thing stuffed. It was Thanksgiving Day, a uniquely American holiday.

Hardly had our indigestion abated when another "uniquely American" special day arrived with much preliminary fanfare - "Black Friday." Only now it seems to be starting on Thursday evening. I guess that one day, regardless the ridiculously early opening hour, just isn't enough to sell or buy the "have-to-have" merchandise.

Much to my chagrin now, I've actually participated in this event. About 10 years ago would be the time of my lapse of sanity. I really believe that everyone should experience this day at least once in their lives, just so they can say, "I'll never do that again."

Reliving my experience, I got up around O-dark-thirty and drove to one of our large, chain-type stores to get something at a bargain price that I thought that I just couldn't live without. It doesn't matter what the item was - oh okay, it was a turkey deep fryer. After almost freezing to death waiting in line to get in, almost being squashed by a horde of unruly and greedy shoppers, I got my turkey fryer. It's still in the box, unopened, to this very day. Obviously I really needed it, huh?

But, I've been able, with a clear conscience since then, to say, "I'll never do that again" and not have to worry about violating my oath. With what I've said to this point about this "special" Friday, I'd like to sort of segue into some thoughts about another Friday. It wasn't called "Black Friday" back then, but in retrospect, by looking at all that occurred that day, it certainly could have been.

I'm going to condense my comments about this long-past Friday as best I can and I want to say at the outset here, that they are drawn from the following scriptural locations. I'd appreciate it if you'd check them out and make sure that I accurately provide you with what is found there. The source of my comments regarding that Friday is found in the following chapters: Matthew 25-28, Mark 14-16, Luke 22-24 and John 18-20.

Yes, some very interesting and most important events took place on that Friday. No, it wasn't some fantastic sales or stampeding shoppers. Let me just relate some of the things going on back on that day.

By reading the above Scriptures you'll see that on that Friday: Jesus and His disciples shared the Passover Supper together and even sang a hymn. Then Jesus, accompanied by Peter, James and John walked to a small garden where we find Jesus praying and the disciples sleeping.

While Jesus is praying and the disciples sleeping, Judas is betraying. Not only did he betray his Lord and Savior, he also committed suicide on this Friday. On this Friday we find the "Council and priests" conspiring to convict Jesus of "something." To do so, they produce witnesses to falsely testify and worked up the crowd to demand His conviction.

We find that all of this presented a real problem to Pilate who tried three times to not convict Jesus of anything, but this "unruly" mob wouldn't have it so. They only cried out the more - "crucify him, crucify him."

It was also on this Friday that Peter first said that he was willing to die for Jesus, then he slept in the garden, then he denied even knowing who Jesus was. On top of that, the rest of Jesus' disciples "forsook Him and fled." All on the same day.

Jesus is tried in what we'd call a "kangaroo court," convicted, spat on, beaten, mocked and crowned with thorns and led up Calvary's Hill to be put to death in the manner of, and with, common criminals. There He is nailed to the cross and raised between two real criminals.

On this Friday of long past, Jesus is not only suffering the pain and anguish commiserate with that torturous death, He has the additional feeling of being "forsaken" by God, His Father. Yet, during all of these things happening to Him, He still "forgives" His tormentors because they really don't know what they are doing. Then, His life passed from Him.

Now, during this Friday afternoon on Calvary, there are some other strange events taking place in the area. The "earth was quaking" and the "rocks split open." There were even graves opening up and departed souls seen moving about. From noon to three PM the day became night as the sky darkened. The "veil of the Temple" was torn apart.

Yes, all of this took place and Jesus died on this Friday. When you think about it, I think this was really the original "Black Friday." Black because it had all the appearances of a total victory by Satan and evil over God and good.

Can't you just see what else must have been happening that Friday. The "Council" and the priests and Pharisees had been trying to arrest and kill Jesus for several years and now they could celebrate their victory. They had lied and conspired to get rid of this Jesus guy who claimed to be the Messiah. Now they had finally won. Or so they thought.

Jesus was taken from the cross and buried in another man's tomb. Great precautions were made to ensure that He stayed there. You know, He said that if he was killed, he'd rise again in three days so the authorities, even though they didn't believe in Him, weren't taking any chances. And, it's still Friday.

Well, today is Sunday. The first day of the week. And "Black Friday" was three days ago, wasn't it? And what are we celebrating today? The fact that, after all of the events that occurred that Friday past; after all the precautions to make sure Jesus stayed in the grave - He arose.

We sometimes sing an old hymn that has the words "Up from the grave He arose. With a mighty triumph o'er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign." No, three days ago "His foes" thought that they had secured themselves a great victory. As it is to my "chagrin" that I once participated in our modern-day "Black Friday" think how much more "chagrined" Satan and those who participated in the first "Black Friday" must feel.

But, as we close, remember this: we, as Christians, get to share in this victory. The Gospel says that if we are "buried with Him in baptism" then we'll "rise with Him..." (Col. 2:12) Romans 6:4-5 says that, if we've been baptized or "planted" together with Him, we'll be likewise "resurrected" with Him.

I hope that when our modern "Black Fridays" roll around each year, you'll recall the original "Black Friday" and remember that Sunday is coming in three days.

                            "And that He was buried, and that He rose again the

                              third day according to the scriptures. (1Cor. 15:4)

Ron Covey

 

 

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