Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Freaky Friday

Back in the 70's when I was just a teenager the movie Freaky Friday came out.  The premise is that an often-bickering teenage daughter and her mother wake one Friday morning to find themselves in the other's body.  After the initial shock wears off, each realizes how difficult it is to be the other, and both gain a greater appreciation of the trials of the other's life.  After a while they return to their own bodies having learned quite a bit by swapping places.  This freakish, cosmic accident works out to benefit mother and daughter.  It was remade in 2003 when my daughters were young.  It was interesting, to say the least, to observe their reaction to swapping places with their mother.

The idea, however, is intriguing.  Although most mothers and daughters would cringe at the thought, there are probably some people you would like to change places with.  Wouldn’t it be cool to inhabit the body of your favorite athlete, singer, or actor?  Who wouldn’t like to experience fame and fortune for at least a few days?  If given the chance most of us would probably be up for the exchange.

On the other hand, there are certainly some people you would never change places with.  Who would like to experience the poverty and hunger that so many are subject to?  It would be disastrous to change places with some people.  I would have to think long and hard before making that exchange.  There would have to be some significant benefit to persuade me.

This concept of swapping is at the heart of what Good Friday is all about.  Scripture refers to Christ's death on the cross as a willful act on his behalf to take the punishment that we deserved.  Let that sink in.  Jesus decided to change places with you!  Now, I don’t know you but I do know Jesus and whoever you are that seems like a raw deal for him!  There must have been some significant benefit for him to take that deal, and there was.

The apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "God made him (Jesus) who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." (NIV)   Elsewhere Paul says, "When he (Jesus) was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing." Galatians 3:13 (NLT) 

On the cross that Friday a divine swap took place.  This swap secured our salvation and at the same time Jesus, after suffering unimaginable spiritual pain, was still exalted to the right hand of God on the basis of his perfection!  This swap works out to benefit both parties.  On the cross that Friday perfection was punished so that the sinful could be saved.

What makes this even more impressive is that this was no freakish, cosmic accident.  This exchange was in the plans from the beginning of time!  Jesus himself states that this swap was at the heart of his mission.  Referring to himself, Jesus said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people.” (Mark 10:45, NCV)

We are the ones who should have suffered the curse.  It should have been you and me on the cross but on that Friday, on that Good Friday, God and an often-bickering people changed places and we all are better for it!