The Good Word on Good Friday


BY DAVIS KNOWLES (@DAVEYDAVE52)


A fugitive and a wanderer, the bloody-handed son of exiles turned his back from the presence of the Lord, driven away from the land and hidden from His face.[1] A new sign of wickedness on earth, Cain was banished for the murder of his brother.[2] An unrepentant man[3] who could not live up to the promise made to his mother,[4] Cain was cursed from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive his brother’s blood from his own hand.[5] Cain could not outrun the bloodstain. The voice of his bother’s blood was crying to the Lord from the dirt. What was the cry of Abel’s innocent blood? It was justice.[6] Though on that day a different blood had long since dried, the skins that covered the rebellion of Cain’s parents were well worn—a symbolic substitute of death in their place.[7]

From the story of our earliest parents, humanity has wrought havoc and destruction, chosen rebellion, and awakened our guilty conscience. We call this “evil.” And for the participation in evil and the resulting vandalization of the relational atmosphere, there are cosmic consequences. When God ordered the cosmos with His words, He cut covenant. When He distinguished light from dark, the waters from the sky, He divided.[8] Therefore violation of cosmic covenant creates injustice which directly carries said consequences. But instead of eliminating evil entirely (which we all carry inside of us) resulting in the decimation of humanity altogether, in His goodness and mercy He provided a covering; the shedding of innocent blood. This is one lifeblood spilled instead of another, and without the scapegoat, there is no forgiveness.[9] Animal sacrifice was always meant to be a shocking reminder testifying to God’s justice and grace. He would not keep His back turned to us forever.

As the promised descendants of Abraham walked through their bloodstained doorposts, backs bearing Egypt’s plunder as they left her borders, they followed a man into the dark.[10] He, like Cain, would see the limitations of exiled man and in a glorious encounter with the Covenant-Maker, Moses saw the turned back of the LORD rather than His face.[11] Yet God chose this former prince to serve this wandering nation as a symbol of the glorious face to come, who would receive and implement this covenant of types and shadows on behalf of historically obstinate people. As they served their sentence in the desert, Sinai saw a deal made with Jacob’s earliest children, marked with parameters, bound to conditions of obedience, and ratified with His Name.[12] Still, Israel wandered—but God provided covering in the face of her harlotry. A promise was made to her, just like to Eve, that One would come as a final atonement for sin, and a new covenant would be wrought in her inmost being rather than slaughtered on the altar of finite sacrifice.[13] The blood of an animal could never serve the last word, never provide the final penance or atonement. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins or purge our guilty consciences.[14] Over time and routine, Israel’s sacrifices became meaningless to God, proving the insufficiency of this early shadow.[15]

Word of a new king emerged, one from the line of the beloved King David, who would come to deal with evil once for all. David’s Son would be no ordinary king, defying convention—He would come as a servant, only to suffer and to die a death reserved for the wicked, to atone for the evil of His people. His life would be offered as a sacrifice.[16] Generations later, a Man from Nazareth would be beaten, coronated in mockery, and executed like a criminal on crossbeams outside the gates of Jerusalem. It is important to remember Jesus died only because He wanted to. When the innocent Son of David died in guilty stead, it spoke a better, stronger, and more sufficient word—“It is finished.”[17] This is the King who bled out for us while we were still sinners.[18] This is Christ and Him crucified. He bought our ransom not with silver or gold, but with His precious blood.[19] That gruesome Friday on Golgotha spoke grace to our guilt, mercy to our shame, covenant to our infidelity, and purity to our criminal record. This was always His plan.

Today, the living Word of God still cuts the earth as it did in the genesis. To trust that the blood of Jesus, the risen Son of God, is enough to cover the stains on our past, present, and future is the most basic and mandatory confession of the Christian life. Let us hear the pardoning decree of His precious blood and declare our agreement—that He who is the same yesterday, today, and forever[20] will see us through the muddy philosophical waters of postmodernity, so offended as it is by the exclusivity of Jesus. His blood still matters because that God-man got up from the puddle of His sacrifice, made glorious, eternal, covenantal promises, and we await His return to David’s throne. The Father still hears the cry of His Son’s blood—so should we. When guilt and doubt and shame besiege us, let us thus “approach the throne of grace with confidence,” for both our conscience and for His Name’s sake, He who blots out all our sins.[21] When culture screams and rulers of the air shout their cause, let us cling to the cross-bearing Christ, because His blood is final, His Word is sure, and His grace is sufficient.[22]

 

“Let us fix our thoughts on the Blood of Christ; how precious that Blood is in God’s eyes, inasmuch as its outpouring for our salvation has opened the grace of repentance to all mankind.”[23]


Davis Knowles is son of Southern natives. As high school prom king and ex-jock, he works with his hands and writes with his heart. If there’s avocados at a party, he can’t guac away. He now lives in a Muslim-majority nation for the persuasion of Jesus, and you can email him at davis@faimission.org. Has no pets.



 

 

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[1] Genesis 4:14
[2] Genesis 4:8
[3] Genesis 4:9
[4] Genesis 3:15
[5] Genesis 4:11-12
[6] Genesis 4:10
[7] Genesis 3:21
[8] See Genesis 1
[9] Hebrews 9:22
[10] Exodus 12:31-39; Leviticus 16:10
[11] Exodus 33-34
[12] Exodus 34:10-27; Hebrews 10:1
[13] Jeremiah 31:33
[14] Hebrews 10
[15] Isaiah 1
[16] Isaiah 53:10-11
[17] John 19:30; Hebrews 12:24
[18] Romans 5:8
[19] 1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23; 1 Peter 1:18-20
[20] Hebrews 13:8
[21] Isaiah 43:25
[22] Hebrews 4:16
[23] First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, Ch. 7