The Original Black Friday

“It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed” (Luke 23:44-45a, ESV).

In recent years the day after Thanksgiving has become known as “Black Friday.” While this term was first used to describe the date of the financial panic set off by gold speculators in 1869, provides this definition for the way in which the term is most used nowadays: “the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping days because of discounts offered by retailers: so named from the use of black ink to record profits.”

The original Black Friday had nothing to do with shopping, though. Neither did it have anything to do with financial speculation in 1869. No, the original Black Friday was an event that took place on a Friday some two thousand years ago outside of Jerusalem. On that day, Jesus Christ was crucified, despite the fact that Pontius Pilate, after questioning Jesus, announced, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving of death has been done by him” (Luke 23:14-15).

Pilate was exactly right, of course; Jesus was the only man to ever live a perfect, sinless life, so there could not possibly have been anything “deserving of death…done by him.” And yet, he was crucified anyway. The immediate reason for the crucifixion was Pilate’s timidity in the face of pressure from the Jewish leaders and his desire to keep a low profile in Rome after a previous situation he had been involved in. Knowing this, the Jews were essentially able to blackmail Pilate into doing their bidding in this instance. The real reason, though, was that the death of Jesus–the shedding of His blood–was God’s divine plan for providing the payment demanded by a holy God for the sins of man.

If ever there has been reason for giving thanks, this would be it: Jesus blood paid the penalty for my sins–and yours, if you are willing to accept God’s gift of salvation–and His resurrection defeated death forever, providing eternal life for those who believe.

So if you find yourself lining up hours in advance in the cold to save a few dollars on the latest gadget or this year’s Christmas presents, if you find yourself pushing and shoving or just trying to avoid being trampled in the midst of the chaotic rush for “the deal,” remember that Black Friday is really not about buying at all, but it is about paying–and Jesus paid it all.

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