Today many people around the world celebrate what is called, “Good Friday.” Although many Christians and pastors, myself included, do not validate its celebration (due to a recognition of Jewish time and a three days, and three nights promise of Christ to be in the heart of the earth, Matthew 12:40), it still stands in many minds as the day Jesus Christ gave His life as a ransom for man’s sins. Although we cannot adamantly prove the day and exact time our Lord died, we can without hesitation prove from Scripture that Jesus Christ did died for our sins (I Corinthians 15:1-3, I Peter 2:24, II Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:1-12).
The Bible verifies that love was God’s motivation through it all.
1. Consider the love of the Father in giving His son: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
2. Consider the love of the Son in laying down His life: Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13
3. Consider than the Father loved the Son because of His sacrifice: Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. John 10:17
Love permeates the Easter story. The love of God validates the message. It answers the hard questions. Why did He do it? Why would He do it? How would He do it? What is the manner in which He would die? GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD!
I lay this foundation based upon a principle found in the following verse: First Corinthians chapter thirteen and verse three says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
In this great “Love Chapter” Paul is describing the uselessness and nothingness of things offered in the Christian life without love. Here, Paul explains that even if one were to give his own body to be burned and have not love nor be motivated by love for God and others, it profits him nothing.
In our twenty-first century world we have a classic example of such a text. We might speak at length about men who under false pretenses and false religion, in a false name and for a false God, give themselves to be burned for Allah. Their martyrdom profits them nothing. Many even believe that in the days of Paul martyrdom for the sake of being a “hero” was practiced among Christians. Where LOVE was not the motivating factor, the giving of one’s own life had no profit.
In John chapter thirteen we have a classic example of this truth. Peter and the other disciples are in the boiler room of emotion, called the Upper Room. In one fell swoop the betrayal and denial of Judas and Peter respectively is foretold. No wonder John chapter fourteen begins with comfort: “Let not your heart be troubled!” All they felt was trouble!
Christ said to Peter, “Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.” The afterwards is found in verse thirty-eight where the Bible says, “Verily, verily I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.” After he was “converted” (Luke 22:32) he would follow Christ, but here, thrice-denial is nearer than true discipleship. To this news Peter replies, “Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake!” (John 13:36, 37).
We now know the rest of the story. Peter was not willing to die for Christ; he was now neither willing nor able to live for Him when the going got tough (Matthew 26:69-75). But, thank God, Jesus always gets His prayers answered, and Peter gets converted (Luke 22:32)! He gets right with God!
Peter would be mightily used of God, but Christ had a great last appeal to the great apostle. In John chapter twenty-one Jesus does not appeal to Peter based upon his faith, his loyalty, his commitment, his preaching, his praying or his miraculous apostolic power. Jesus Christ summoned him to the banqueting table of discipleship based on the merits of Peter’s love for Christ. “Lovest thou me?” our Lord thrice-enquires of him. It was love for Christ that Peter needed for greater service!
History bears proof that Peter became a great pillar in the early days of the church. It was his sermon preached on Pentecost that led to the immediate salvation of three thousand souls. His service for Christ will have eternity’s stamp of approval.
It is also believed that Peter was eventually crucified upside-down for the cause of Christ. He did eventually “give his body to be burned” in such a manner because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as His Lord.