As I ran this morning of Good Friday, I considered what this day and this weekend meant for me as a Christian. It comes down to three words: sacrifice, salvation and victory.
I reflected upon two verses from the Bible, Gospel of John which for me are the essence of these three days. One is John 3:16-17 (NIV): “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” The other is John 15:13 (NIV) “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
And today, it is the cross, a simple but powerful symbol that gives us all, Christians or not, a vision of what it means to sacrifice for the salvation of others, in order that they may achieve redemption, spiritual victory. It is why I believe that cross currently standing upon Mt. Soledad in San Diego serves two purposes. It reminds us of the One, Jesus Christ, who hung upon that cross but it also reminds us of those men and women who answered the call to service as articulated in Isaiah 6:8 (NIV) “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
I began to realize how Jesus Christ and His simple “act of love” thousands of years ago set a precedent that so many to this day have, as we say in church, “taken up their own cross,” to sacrifice for others.
Since the days of Lexington and Concord, America has been blessed with these special, exceptional men and women who have followed the example of Jesus, stepped up and said, “Send me.” The sacrifice of the cross by Jesus was accepted by those He commissioned to Matthew 28:19 (NIV) “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
I’d like to share with you what happened to the original Apostles of Jesus Christ. From the book, The Signature of God, by Grant Jeffrey:
Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by a sword wound.
Mark died in Alexandria, Egypt, after being dragged by horses through the streets until he was dead.
Luke was hanged by idolatrous priests on an olive tree in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.