Dear Muslim and Christian friends,
Recently – around the world – countless millions of Christians remembered something called “Good Friday.” Good Friday is the day that Christians believe Jesus was crucified for the sins of the world. It was, the Bible teaches, a day of terrible suffering and tremendous love by Jesus the Messiah – for you, for me, for all of us.
The day was so bad for Jesus because of what He suffered, but so “good” for us – precisely because of what He suffered…
To my Muslim readers, I know full well that Islam teaches that Isa al Masih did not die – that another (possibly Judas or Pilate or someone else) – took his place; that God took Jesus up to heaven and put his facial image on someone who actually did die on a cross. But for now, can we agree to disagree about that?
In this blog post, as I do every year at this time, I just have to say something. Many things. To Jesus.
I have to thank him. Publicly. Effusively (expressing feelings of gratitude, pleasure, or approval in an unrestrained or heartfelt manner).
So my Muslim friends, even if you don’t agree with my position about the death of Isa – Jesus – on that day 2,000 years ago, would you bear with me? Would you allow me to express my love for him here?
A PUBLIC THANK YOU TO MY SAVIOR – JESUS: YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO. . .BUT YOU DID
* You didn’t have to leave your place with God in heaven and all the glory you had there. . .but you did. (John 1:1-4; John 1:14)
* You didn’t have to come to planet earth – a place filled with sin and shame and hatred and foul darkness. . .but you did. (John 1:9-10)
* You didn’t have to choose to be born in a place for animals – a dirty, smelly stable instead of the king’s palace you deserved. . .but you did. (Luke 2:1-7)
* You didn’t have to take the body of a human with all the weaknesses that we experience. . .but you did. (Philippians 2:5-7)
* You didn’t have to be born in little Bethlehem and live in obscurity in Nazareth instead of the fame you could have enjoyed living in Jerusalem. . .but you did. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6; John 1:46)
* You didn’t have to refuse to be king. . .but you did. (John 6:15)
* You didn’t have to serve people instead of being served. . .but you did. (Mark 10:45; Philippians 2:5-7)
* You didn’t have to spend time with people everyone else shunned and hated (tax collectors, prostitutes, lepers) – eating with them, loving them, teaching them, healing them. . .but you did. (Mark 2:13-17)
* You didn’t have to ride into Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday on a humble donkey instead of a white horse. . .but you did. (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-11)
* You didn’t have to let your friends betray you (Judas for 30 pieces of silver) and deny you (Peter three times). . .but you did. (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-16; Matthew 27:3-10; Luke 22:54-62)
* You didn’t have to sweat blood (a rare medical condition during extreme stress known as hematidrosis) as you faced carrying our sins. . .but you did. (Luke 22:44).
* You didn’t have to let them tie your hands and arrest you (since you were only bound by your love for God and for us). . .but you did. (Matthew 27:2; Mark 15:1)
* You didn’t have to go through a night of cruel, illegal, and unjust trials (3 Jewish trials, 3 Roman trials) on that Good Friday morning. . .but you did. (Matthew 26:57-27:26; Mark 14:53-15:20; Luke 22:54-23:25: John 18:12-19:13)
* You didn’t have to let them blindfold you and spit on you and strike you and mock you and pull out part of your beard. . .but you did. (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65 and 15:19; Luke 22:63-65)
* You didn’t have to answer the high priest’s question – “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” but you did. (Mark 14:55-64).
* You didn’t have to announce to the world on that night exactly who you were (you were not lying, you were not confused, and you were not blaspheming). . .but you did. (Matthew 26:62-66)
* You did not have to remain silent before false accusations of the Jewish leaders in the presence of the Roman governor Pilate. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:7; Matthew 27:12-14; Mark 15:3-4)
* You didn’t have to let the Roman soldiers scourge you (with a whip of leather straps with bits of bone and iron and glass designed to rip the flesh open, exposing muscles and bone from the shoulders down to the thighs). . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5; John 19:1-2; 1 Peter 2:24)
* You didn’t have to let the soldiers mock you by placing a crown of thorns on your head and a purple robe on your torn back. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:27-29; Mark 15:16-20)
* You didn’t have to let the soldiers beat your face so much that it was severely disfigured. . .but you did. (Isaiah 52:13-14)
* You didn’t have to carry the heavy crossbar of your cross (that we deserved to carry) on your shredded, bloody back. . .but you did. (John 19:17)
* You didn’t have to allow Roman soldiers to pound iron nails into your wrists and feet. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:16; Isaiah 53:5; Zechariah 12:10; John 20:25)
* You didn’t have to refuse the sedative/anesthetic on the cross because you wanted to face death fully aware. . .but you did. (Matthew 27:34; Mark 15:23)
* You didn’t have to suffer the other horrible pains of crucifixion for 6 hours (dislocated shoulders, elbows, and wrists; exhaustion; infection; fever; severe dehydration; blood loss; hyperventilation; collapsing lungs; cardiorespiratory failure; and finally slow suffocation and cardiac rupture – a “broken heart”). . .but you did. (Psalm 22:14, 15, 17; John 19:34)
* You didn’t have to pray for forgiveness for those who did all these cruel, horrible things to you. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 23:34)
* You didn’t have to endure the vicious verbal attacks – mocking, insults, sarcasm – from people and religious leaders who watched you die. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:7-8; Matthew 27:39-43; Mark 15:29-31; Luke 23:35, 37; John 19:24)
* You didn’t have to endure the worst pain of all – abandonment, desertion by God – while you carried our sins. . .but you did. (Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
* You didn’t have to go through so many terrible sufferings and finally die in my place, for my sins and shame – for the unspeakable sins and shame of all of humanity. . .but you did. (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 10-11)
* You didn’t have to love me – love all of us – with this kind of tremendous love. . .but you did.
Jesus. Thank you. For all eternity, thank you.
You didn’t have to. . .but you did.