We all love a great deal. Black Friday, which begins earlier and earlier each year (now starting as early as Thanksgiving night), illustrates the materialism and commercialism that has commandeered the United States. Many eager consumers go to shopping extremes (such as planning shopping routes and maps). The intent is to get the most for the price we pay.
We all have access to the greatest Black Friday deal and, unlike many restrictions with commercial Black Friday sales, this one is unlimited. It is available to everyone and its free. Jesus Christ gave us the greatest of all Black Friday deals when He offered Himself up on the cross as a sacrifice for us. He bought us.
Just as our Black Friday follows a day of Thanksgiving (even beginning on Thanksgiving now), Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross also followed a day of Thanksgiving. In Luke 22, we see where Jesus and His disciples are preparing for the Passover meal. “When the day of the feast of Unleavened Bread arrived, the day for sacrificing the Passover lamb, he sent out Peter and John, instructing them, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’” (Luke 22:78) After having a brief discussion with Jesus about the location of the meal, the disciples did as Jesus commanded. Then, they gathered for Thanksgiving.
“When the hour came, he took his place at table with the apostles. He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.’ (Luke 22:14-15) The day before Jesus is betrayed, arrested, and crucified, He arranges to partake in the Passover meal with his apostles. In Judaism, the Passover is a time of reflection, remembrance, and thanksgiving. It’s a time to remember, as told in Exodus, about the journey of the Jewish people from slavery to freedom through the mighty acts of God. It’s also a time to reflect on those who are still enslaved. The Passover is a time of thanksgiving that is celebrated with family, friends, and food. It’s a time to thank God for their freedom, their blessings, and for all the mercies He has shown to them and their people throughout the generations.
Our culture has become so seized by greed and materialism that many family members barely finish their meal before jumping up, grabbing their purse, and heading off to find a deal. Jesus’ thanksgiving Passover meal was no exception to this scene. “When he had said this, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified, ‘Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.’ The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant. One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side. So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant. He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him, ‘Master, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.’ So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. After he took the morsel, Satan entered him. So, Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly.’” (John 13:21-27)
What did Judas do? He allowed money and greed to cloud his vision of God. He had made earlier arrangements with the religious leaders to give them Jesus in exchange for money. “Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ They paid him thirty pieces of silver and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.’” The “time” had come when Jesus sent Judas away to deliver what he had already been paid to provide. The chief priests thought they had snagged a great deal. Judas believed he had claimed the deal of the day. The Lord had an even greater purchase coming soon.
Just as the Passover allows Jews to remember their journey from bondage to freedom, we have also been captives whose chains have been removed. “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, although you were once slaves of sin, you have become obedient from the heart to the pattern of teaching to which you were entrusted. Freed from sin, you have become slaves of righteousness.” (Romans 6:16-18)
We were slaves to sin and, as a result, condemned to eternal death. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Following the Passover meal, Jesus made the greatest Black Friday purchase the world has ever experienced. There will never be a greater deal to be found. “For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore, glorify God in your body.” (I Corinthians 6:20) Paul emphasizes this point by repeating it just a few verses later in his letter to the Corinthians. “You have been purchased at a price. Do not become slaves to human beings.” (I Corinthians 7:23)
The world’s greatest Black Friday transaction was completed on Calvary. “When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.” (John 19:30) The result was a truly black Friday. “It was now about noon and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ And when he had said this, he breathed his last.’” (Luke 23:44-46)
No matter the magnitude of deals we find while Black Friday shopping, each one comes with a price we must pay. The greatest deal cannot be wrapped in a box and topped with a bow. The greatest Black Friday bargain will not fit in a stocking or be stuffed in a gift bag. The greatest purchase was found hanging on a tree with the price tag declaring “free”.