Holy Week 2022 – Good Friday
If you did not know about the resurrection, then Good Friday does not seem very good at all. It seems nothing more than a tragedy. A man named Jesus seemed to make such a difference in the world around him. He loved so well, especially those who often seem neglected and forgotten. He gave hope to ordinary men and women who were willing to leave everything behind and follow Him. He did miracles, real miracles – healing the blind, cleansing lepers, and there was even a lame man who got up off of his mat and walked home after being told by Jesus that his sins were forgiven. Then there was Lazarus, the friend who had been dead and lying in a tomb for four days. Jesus arrived and called him forth from the grave, and then Lazarus started hosting parties for every one who wanted to meet the “dead man walking.”
Jesus seemed to be riding a wave of great publicity coming into Palm Sunday, but there was also a devious plot to get rid of him brewing among the religious leaders. The more popular Jesus became among the people, the more hated he became among the religious elite. And finally they framed him – betrayed, arrested and sentenced to death. It seemed like a horrible injustice. He was a man sent from God, who spoke with authority and even healed people and cast out demons to authenticate his ministry and words. People felt seen and loved by God when they encountered Jesus.
And now He is on a cross! Between two thieves! A number of disciples had already fled the seen upon his arrest. Peter “followed at a distance” according to the Gospel narratives. Peter and John, Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene and some of the others were there at the cross watching in horror and unbelief as Jesus was gasping for breath, held by rugged nails to roughly hewn cross of wood. He was dying! His life was ebbing away. I imagine they wanted it to stop. I am sure they thought this could not be happening. He had healed and helped so many… What is happening for heaven’s sake?
Exactly! Something was happening for heaven’s sake and for the world’s sake as well. While at first glance, the crucifixion of Jesus looked so incredibly wrong and bad – and yet it was good. Who killed Jesus? The religious leaders turned the crowd against Him. The people shouted Crucify Him, and Pilate consented to their wishes. It seems like many people were responsible for the death of Jesus, but in the end His death lay in the hands of one party. It was God the Father who ultimately had Jesus delivered up “by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). It was the plan of God for his son to suffer on our behalf. There was no other way. For the sin of man and woman to be paid for, only a human could die in their place. Only God could be sinless though. So God sent His Son Jesus, born of a virgin, taking the form of a servant and becoming a man. Jesus was fully man and fully God and his body was now the battle ground for the souls of men. He who had no sin became sin for us in order that we might become the righteousness of God.
A Divine Exchange was taking place at Golgotha. It was totally unfair and undeserved. The pure sinless Son of God was dying in the place of a traitorous race of rebels who had snubbed God for their own wills and desires. The traitors deserved judgment and hell, and yet were being offered the promise of heaven as the God-man was facing hell on their behalf. Demons and darkness were circling the cross without the slightest notion they were being set up for a blind side attack come Sunday morning.
Jesus died for the sake of heaven. Only a glorious God could rescue and redeem a traitor race and turn them into whole-hearted worshippers. It was a plan worthy of heaven. Jesus died for humanity’s sake. “For Christ died for sin once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). He died for us to bring us back to God. He died to remove the barrier of sin so we could draw near to God. He died to remove the penalty of sin so we could be forgiven and live forever in the presence of Almighty God. Whose plan was this? It was the plan of a Good, Good Father and that is why this is a good Good Friday. Amen!
Enjoy this classic: Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman – The Wonderful Cross performed at Passion Conference 2011