Updated: Apr 11
Today is Good Friday. It is the day that Christians (Jesus’ followers) remember how Jesus suffered greatly after having a mock trial; how the very same people who were so excited to welcome him into the Holy City as the Messiah, early in the week, were shouting “crucify him!” at the end of the week.
It was a horrific day. Jesus, the Son of God, was arrested and beaten and spit on; he was mocked and whipped and condemned to death on a cross – a shameful, criminal’s death. His hands and feet were nailed to the cross and he was raised up for all to see him and watch as if it were a spectacle. He died a cruel death – a death he did not deserve and on that day the whole earth became dark and shook.
Why in the world would anyone call that day “good?” Yet we do. We call it “Good Friday.” How could we, who are Christians, people who truly believe Jesus was, and is, the Son of the Living God, call such a terrible day “good?” I could see calling it “Dark Friday,” “Black Friday,” (not for shopping), “The Friday when God died,” “Shameful Friday,” and the list could go on and on.
But instead Christians have called this day Good Friday for so long. So, what’s good about it?
I’m going to write here what I, as a Christian minister, believe with all my heart and all my soul. And it is what followers of Christ have believed throughout the ages – from the moment of his death, until now, people have had this faith. In John 3:16, Jesus says that God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in him would not perish but would have everlasting life. And then Jesus goes on to say that God did not send him into the world to condemn the world but that through him, the world might be saved.
Saved from ourselves. Saved from our sinful, selfish ways; from our own attempts to act like God and be in control of everything. Humans have this tendency to not put our trust in God, the Creator, but to lean into our own will.
God sent Jesus to reveal God’s self to humanity so that we might turn to him and understand his love for us and desire to have a real relationship with us. And if that revelation wasn’t enough (and it wasn’t) he went to the cross and he took upon himself all the sins of the world, even though Jesus was without sin.
That’s called “grace.” Grace is a free gift given without anything done to earn it. When we give a present to our child, or our loved one, we do it out of deep love and nothing else. They don’t do a thing to deserve it. We just love them because they are our beloved. And we desire to shower them with gifts of love.
God showered us with a tremendous gift of love in Christ. He poured out amazing grace for us in Jesus’ death on the cross. Because of that we are forgiven and free from sin. Death has no sting. We have relationship with the Father. All we have to do is profess that we believe and ask him into our hearts.
Paul said that for those who refuse to believe, the cross is foolishness. But for those of us who do believe, the cross is God’s wisdom for us.
Good Friday – it wasn’t a good day for our Lord Jesus. It was an excruciating, painful, horrible day for our Savior. But for us? It was a very good day indeed.
I pray you know what a good day this is for you. I close with sharing the hymn, sung by Cindy Powell, “The Old Rugged Cross.”
On a hill far away, stood an old rugged Cross The emblem of suff'ring and shame And I love that old Cross where the dearest and best For a world of lost sinners was slain
Oh, that old rugged Cross so despised by the world Has a wondrous attraction for me For the dear Lamb of God, left his Glory above To bear it to dark Calvary
So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown