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Lent 2022 Day 45: " Good Friday - Choose"April 15, 2022
I saw a sign at a restaurant that said, pre-order your fish diner for Good Friday. One writer described Fish Friday like this. “It is important to note that the (Catholic) Church's directive called for abstaining from eating meat and did not mention (let alone require or even encourage) the consumption of fish on Fridays. The Church's objective in calling on the faithful to abstain from eating meat on certain days was to provide them with a simple exercise to aid in their spiritual development. Human nature being what it is, people usually react to new rules by looking for loopholes that enable them to comply with the letter of the rule but not necessarily the spirit. In its abstinence rule, the Church simply required its members to abstain from eating meat with the idea that people would limit their food to vegetables and grains on Fridays. Meat is generally considered to be the flesh of warm-blooded land animals. Fish, on the other hand, are cold-blooded water-dwelling creatures. Using this technicality, people began consuming the flesh of fish in place of the flesh of animals on days of abstinence.”
Fish Friday shows how traditions like most other traditions can lose sight of the truth. Even these yearly calendar events have lost sight of the truth. Every year Easter weekend is a big weekend in the church as every church will celebrate Easter and will then talk and sing about the same thing over and over again, year after year. That may sound like I am saying the resurrection of Jesus is redundant, but I am not. What I am saying is the church has become superfluous by their traditions and have become all talk and no power. Paul said 1 Corinthians 4:20 “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.” Jesus talked about traditions when He said, Mark 7:6 “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 7 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.’ 8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.” The problem is no matter how great or powerful your worship is on Easter Sunday, there will be no power because in following traditions the church has negated God’s word. Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
Now if fish Friday was more than a technicality, it may have some meaning, as fish and fishing are a big deal in the gospels. Matthew 4:19 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.” Luke 5:4 “When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. 5 Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets. 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” Mark 6:41 “Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all.” John 21:11 “So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” Matthew 13:47 “Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. 48 When it was full, the fishermen pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets, but threw the bad away. 49 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
We also see Jesus talking about the present kingdom and the available power to all who would believe. This is a big statement, as earlier we saw Luke 22:14 “When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then after His resurrection, and not redundant by the way, Ephesians 1:18 “the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come,” we see in Luke 24:30 “When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.” The disciples said, Acts 10:39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”
The kingdom of God did come and Jesus eating and drinking testifies to it, as does Jesus driving out demons. Luke 11:20 “But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” So, you can see in this one small example how a tradition totally misses the picture. There is so much more to eating fish or catching fish than meets the eye. Every Good Friday, every Easter, people are worshipping in vain by following their traditions, experiences, and reasoning. Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel (crucial) you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” I enjoy fish, but supernatural fish and fishing is much better. Eating fish on Friday does nothing, but supernatural fish with the kingdom coming near can change the world. The true gospel has been rejected for tradition, reason and experience which can only give you a manmade experience. Would you rather see a powerful performance or Matthew 8:16 “When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick.” Standing on God’s word brings with it the supernatural. Luke 24:40 “When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Jesus and His disciples showed us what being clothed with power really is. A powerful Easter Sunday performance is not that.
Today we are not talking about choosing halibut or haddock, but choosing between life and prosperity and death and destruction. We are told Deuteronomy 30:11 “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. 15 See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. 16 For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live 20 and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
The land the Lord has now given us is the world. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” There are two places prepared for eternity. Matthew 25:34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” The prince of this world is still fighting to take you to the place he is going to. Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Because the church has rebelled, satan has been allowed to decimate the church. He is still fighting, even though Jesus gave us power and authority to continue to destroy his works. satan is trying to deceive you with the deceitful offer of life also. When Sennacherib was attacking, they said to the people in Jerusalem, 2 Kings 18:31 “Do not listen to Hezekiah. This is what the king of Assyria says: Make peace with me and come out to me. Then each of you will eat fruit from your own vine and fig tree and drink water from your own cistern, 32 until I come and take you to a land like your own—a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey. Choose life and not death! “Do not listen to Hezekiah, for he is misleading you when he says, ‘The Lord will deliver us. 36 But the people remained silent and said nothing in reply, because the king had commanded, “Do not answer him.” In proverbs there are two voices calling. Proverbs 9:3 “Wisdom calls from the highest point of the city, 4 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 5 “Come, eat my food and drink the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight.” But we also see folly calling out, calling out to those who pass by, who go straight on their way, 16 “Let all who are simple come to my house!” To those who have no sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” Choose the right voice.
You choose life by choosing God’s word over man’s words and you pray for discernment to know the difference. The people shouted Matthew 21:9 “The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” 10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?” 11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” Then later there is a change. Mark 15:9 “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, 10 knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. 12 “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. 13 “Crucify him!” they shouted. 14 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 15 Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” John said John 19:13 “When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). 14 It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon. “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews. 15 But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!” “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked. “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. 16 Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.” They even took it a step further and said, Matthew 27:22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked. They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.” Can you imagine calling down curses on your own children?
The crowds changed from Hosanna to crucify Him, crucify Him. They chose wrong. Today if you are choosing to follow other gospels, you too are yelling crucify Him. If you are adding to God’s word and subtracting from it, you are yelling crucify Him. You can’t shout hosanna and crucify Him together and expect to be blessed. Hebrews 6:4 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. 9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation.” Hebrews 10:6 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Have you chosen wisely? Are there better things in your case? Choosing wrong leads to eternal damnation so be very careful when it comes to the gospel you are following. Again make sure you are testing the spirits. If you think that eating fish on Fridays or attending a Good Friday service, then an Easter service on Sunday checks the box for your salvation, you are greatly deceived. If you are following other gospels, you are rejecting Jesus. I trust that when you were reading those verses about the crowds shouting crucify Him, crucify Him, you felt sick to your stomach. There is good news because when you seek God, you will find Him. The good news of the gospel is still available because we serve a risen Savior. Acts 2:36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Choose wisely! Joshua 24:15 “But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”