Something cool seems to happen whenever my friend Ron and I eat lunch at the Gurley Street Grill in downtown Prescott. It happened yesterday, for the second time in three months, and it sheds light on a holiday that we’re preparing to celebrate tomorrow.
In one way, something cool happens at ALL of our weekly lunches. Ron isn’t just my friend, he is also my Lead Pastor, which makes him my boss. He hates that last term, because we were friends long before he became my boss, and we both prefer the first word. It describes us better. I know how rare that is, and I hope I never take it for granted.
But that’s not the point of this story. At the end of our lunch yesterday, our server came to our table and told us that we were free to go. He pointed to a table where he said a young lady had paid our bill for us. Neither of us had seen her when we walked in, and we assumed that she is a member of our church and wanted to do something sweet for two of her pastors. Oddly, the same thing had happened the last time we ate at that grill (we need to go there more often…)
She hadn’t ordered or eaten our food, so she hadn’t incurred the debt to the restaurant that was the result of our meal. The bill was ours, and we were legally liable to pay it. But she acted as if the bill were hers, stepping into our relationship with the restaurant and graciously making payment on our behalf, freeing us from the debt.
She may not have realized it, but it was a Christ-like moment for her.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. People sometimes wonder how the word “Good” could describe something terrible like a crucifixion. It was the most horrific means of execution ever invented by humans, which says a lot – we’re really, really good at killing people.
And THIS crucifixion, the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, was more terrible than most, because the accused had done nothing wrong. He was perfect. His record was spotless. There was absolutely no reason for Rome to treat Him like a criminal, or for God to treat Him like a sinner.
He had never failed to obey God’s law, so He hadn’t incurred the debt that was the result of sin. That debt was ours, and we were legally liable to pay it. But He acted as if the bill were His, stepping into our relationship with God and graciously making the payment on our behalf, freeing us from the debt.
Writing hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah described the reasons for His death, using the past tense as a literary device: “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (53:5).
Something good happened at the Gurley Street Grill yesterday, because it pointed to something REALLY good that happened in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. And while we could have paid the debt that we owed to the restaurant, we could never have paid the debt that we owe to God.
Only Jesus could do that, and He did. He loved us that much. When you think about it, it’s stunning. Even life-changing.
Think about it. Happy Good Friday.
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