Vol: 20 Issue: 25 Friday, March 25, 2016
I can recall as a kid growing up in a Catholic school how baffled I was after hearing a description of events as they transpired on the first Good Friday. It was the day set aside to commemorate the most horrific execution imaginable, as inflicted on the most innocent victim that ever lived.
What baffled me was that we celebrate it as “Good” Friday. I remember once asking a nun, “Why do we call it good?” She told me, “It is good because that is the day all our sins were heaped upon Jesus.”
That wasn’t a very satisfying answer. Not at all. What is “good” about heaping our sins on somebody else? I don’t think it is “good” when Obama heaps his sins on the previous administration or blames Republicans for blocking legislation in a Democrat-controlled legislature.
When he does that, it offends me on a number of levels. It offends my sense of fairness. It is an offense to my intelligence. It is an offense to my sense of logic. I see nothing about shifting responsibility to an innocent as “good.”
So how is the day that Jesus paid the penalty due my sins necessarily “good?” It would be “good” if I was deserving of His sacrifice. It would be “good” if my sins could be washed awaywithout inflicting my penalty on someone else.
But no matter how I try and make sense of calling the day the Lord was crucified by His own creation “good” . . . the only way I can do so is in the sense of “better Thee than me.”
And that doesn’t make me feel good in the slightest.
Jesus was paraded naked before His enemies in this existence – and before His enemies in the next – all of them jeering the Creator of the Universe as if He was no better than they.
Indeed, He was made subject to them on every level – sinners condemning Him, torturing Him, mocking Him – while the demons of hell roared their mocking approval.
He was beaten, whipped, spat upon, clubbed, cut, abused and tortured beyond what the mind can comprehend, before being nailed to a Cross and hung until He was finally, mercifully dead.
Good Friday was the day that the Lord Jesus Christ paid the penalty for my sins, but it was NOT what Jesus did on the Cross on Friday that secured my eternal life.
My sins were paid for with His Death, but my eternity was secured by His Resurrection on the third day. That is the GOOD day. The day of His crucifixion was the darkest day in the history of mankind.
From the perspective of the Lord of Glory, as He hung there gasping out the words, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
From the perspective of those in the crowd receiving that absolution, there was only great agony and great sadness and great misery and great earthquakes and great events. And there was darkness. Great darkness.
For three hours, as the sins of the world were heaped upon the Christ, the Lord Jesus Christ was alone, separated from the Father, in unimaginable agony, before crying out, “Eli, Eli, lamasabachthani?”
Salvation is good. Eternal life is good. Agonizing suffering, indescribable humiliation and death by eventual and slow suffocation on the Cross is not good. Not good at all.
And probably wasn’t even on Friday.
There are lots of possible reasons why we Christians call the day we commemorate the brutal murder of Jesus Christ as “Good” Friday.
Our word ‘goodbye’ came from the phrase “God be with you,” so, according to that line of thinking, “Good Friday” would have originated from the phrase “God’s Friday.”
But I still think it is less a case of the metamorphosis of language than it is an apt description of the Event that took place on that Day before Passover two thousand years ago.
The murder of Jesus Christ was an event of incredible evil. He was guilty of no infraction, violated no laws, either Mosaic or Roman civil, and His betrayal was orchestrated, the Bible says, by Satan himself.
“And after the sop Satan entered into him [Judas]. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly.” (John 13:27)
But while the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was an act of unspeakable evil, it was a necessary part of God’s Plan for the redemption of our sin debt.
And the manner in which He accomplished was a demonstration of His Power over good and evil, using pure evil to bring about pure good.
The idea that the Lord was crucified on a Friday has some seemingly significant problems, not the least of which is that Friday afternoon to Sunday morning doesn’t sound like three days and three nights.
One can run through the texts and find some seeming anomalies because there are two Sabbaths involved in the Crucifixion story. Passover was a High (annual) Sabbath, whereas Friday evening at sundown marked the weekly Sabbath Day.
So there were two Sabbaths that week — and therefore plenty of ammunition with which to create conflict.
It seems to me typical of our nature and therefore proof of our NEED for redemption that we tend to quibble over whether it was accomplished on Wednesday or Friday to the extent we lose sight of what it took to accomplish it.
He endured the mocking, the scourging, the humiliation, the pain, and the incomprehensibly agonizing weight of the sins of the world separating Him from the Father . . . . and He did it all for you.
“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20).
That’s how much He loved you. You are bought with a price. You are now God’s possession, bought and paid for — and there are NO refunds.
That’s what makes it “Good”.
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