Covering our Darkness

Tonight, my church will hold a Good Friday service of hymns and Scripture readings.  Here, is the way I will frame the hearts of our flock to contemplate the horrific reality of the death of the Son of God:

"Why do we come here tonight?

Because, he came.

From creation, to the cradle, to the cross… all that he might provide a covering for us.  We call it 'Good Friday.'  But, tonight calls us to ponder and mourn something horrific that happened around A.D. 33.  Good Friday means holy Friday – holy, because we take time to be filled with fear and reverence and dread at what happened this day.

Tenebrae is a Latin word – 'darkness.'  You will see, feel palpably, the darkness settle in here, tonight. There was darkness at the beginning of the Bible

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.  And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good.  And God separated the light from the darkness (Genesis 1:1-4).

But, the story goes, the serpent deceived our first parents.  Sin and brokenness, via crafty invasion, crept in, and darkness spread to all of us – the fallout of the fall.  Creation has groaned, ever since… and so have you and I.  So, when you sense encroaching darkness in the sanctuary this evening, realize we’ve all been touched, thoroughly tainted by sin. Left to ourselves, we are permeated by darkness.

Our first parents covered their darkness with fig leaves. But fig leaves don’t cover much!  They needed more. God, the first priest in the Bible, as it were, covered them with garments of skin. Blood has to be shed, for without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22).  We see this all throughout the Bible. Abraham and Isaac – a father, who would dare sacrifice his son?!  It’s unimaginable!  But, his hand is held back and his head turned to find a ram, with its head caught – a suitable substitution.  It wouldn’t be the last time a sacrificial lamb would find his head caught in a thicket of thorns.

So, he came – that Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).  The Creator found in a cradle, a manger, and Mary’s arms kept him warm in the darkness of that night.  But, the cradle was the first step to the cross, where Mary’s tears could not protect him from the darkness of my sins and yours heaped upon his shoulders, as the Father sacrificed his Son.  As Isaiah says, mournfully, 'Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief' (Isaiah 53:10).

Indeed, God will say over us, 'Let there be the light of Easter Resurrection morn!'  Post tenebrous lux – after darkness, light.  But, for tonight, as this holy place darkens, remember the darkness that covered the land when the poor Lamb of God was brutalized and stripped on that cross, all that we might be covered.  And, we are covered, we who trust in this Lamb.  As Sinclair Ferguson once said, 'The last thing Jesus wore before his crucifixion was a seamless garment.  Where is it now?  Spiritually, it is on every believer.'

So, be somber, reverent, staggered that you are so deeply loved!

Oh, sometimes, it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. 

For, to crush the head of the serpent, caused our Lord a terrible bruising. 

Now, as the darkness descends, realize we need this Creator God laid in a cradle, splayed on a cross… to cover us.  That is why we are here, tonight.  Let’s take a quiet moment, to have our affections tuned for songs of the cross."

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