Tuesday, December 2, 2008

12.02.08 Outdoor Devotion: Black Friday

Black Friday! Just the mention of this phrase sends shivers down my spine. Retailers lick their chops in anticipation of the day after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest, most lucrative shopping days of the year. Places like Walmart, Kohls, Target etc. open early, like 4am early, offer extra incentives like door prizes and, last but not least, promote big discounts to lure customers through their doors.
Outdoor stores like Bass Pro Shops, Gander Mountain and Cabelas are no different. Like most outdoorsmen I received the flyers from these places and drooled over all the gear bargains.
About 2000 years ago there was another Black Friday. Of course there were no $300 laptops, X-Box bundles or 2-man ladder stands on sale. On a hill in Israel an innocent man was killed on a cross between two convicted criminals. As he breathed his last breath, the sun refused to shine and day turned into night; the sky turned pitch black. See this story, found in Matthew chapter 27, below:
Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, "ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI ?" that is, "MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?" And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, "This man is calling for Elijah."Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, "Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him."
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom ; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised ; and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, "Truly this was the Son of God !" Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock ; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave. Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, "Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After three days I am to rise again.'"Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard ; go, make it as secure as you know how." And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

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