Friday. A day we anticipate. The end of a work week for many. The last day of school. The beginning of a “week-end’ to have fun. Friday is a time for High School football in the fall. And basketball in the winter. Emails are sent saying “Happy Friday.” Friday is synonymous with good times.
Except for last Friday. December 14, 2012. It was a fateful Friday in Newtown, Connecticut. That Friday 20 innocent children were murdered by an evil man. It was an act so despicable that words seem inadequate to describe it. Tragic! Horrific! Depraved! Appalling! Senseless! Unspeakable! Unthinkable!
Yet it happened. Satan entered into the heart of a bad man and this wicked deed was wrought. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair! It shouldn’t ever happened. But it did.
But I am reminded that it was also on a Friday that another dastardly deed occurred. Evil men whose hearts were filled with envy conspired to kill the Creator. Jesus, the “God-man”, was falsely charged, illegally tried, and unjustly condemned. He was sentenced to die on the cross. He, too, was innocent. Absolutely. Completely. Perfectly. He was a grown man who never sinned. But the same sinful attitudes that killed Christ, murdered those little children.
It was this Jesus who said,”Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:14-15). In fact, he even affirmed, “Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3).
Jesus loved the little children. He loved their innocence. Their purity. Their naivety. He loved their kind hearts and gentle spirits. He loved them unconditionally. The little children were precious in the sight of the Savior. And so, while he was sinless, he died for them. And for their Moms and Dads. And grandparents.
You see on that Friday a week ago that awful act of horror should never have happened. But on that Friday 2000 years ago, it was the Father’s plan to sacrifice his Son so the world could be saved from their sins. The children in Newtown had no choice in their death. But Jesus willingly choose to go to the cross. The death of the school children at Sandy Hook elementary was unnecessary and senseless. But Jesus’ death was a necessary, if people were to be reconciled with God. There was no other sensible solution. A perfect, sinless sacrifice must be offered (Heb. 9:11-22).
Two Fridays. Separated by centuries. But bound together by the hope of Sunday. What happened on that first century Sunday changed the world. It renewed hope. Revived hearts. Restored fellowship.
And it provided comfort for us when the awful “Friday of Newtown” befall us. As heart-rendering and atrocious as those murderers were, thank God for the empty tomb. For resurrection Sunday. For the expectation it offers when we can be reunited with those we love. And for the knowledge that the little children that Jesus loves are now safe in his arms. Free from evil of this earth. And eternally secure.
God grant us, who are left behind, the courage to go on. To face our “Friday’s of terror.” And to live in the glorious hope that Sunday offers.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman