Today is Good Friday. Yesterday I attended a Maundy Thursday service and as the pastor began his welcome and call to worship he touched on the unusual name we give this day – ‘Good Friday’. It seems that what it commemorates is something so brutal that ‘good’ almost feels like the wrong descriptor, and yet we know that for those whose faith is in Christ and his sacrifice on the cross some 2000 years ago, the outcome of Good Friday is most certainly good. Jesus’ death on Good Friday was one of two central defining moments in God’s salvation plan to redeem his people from bondage to sin and death and transferred us into his Kingdom, laying our sin on Jesus, forgiving us by grace through faith in Him and adopting us as his own.
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13-14 (ESV)
The pastor said something like “It might seem strange that we call it Good Friday, in fact you might even wonder why we don’t call it Bad Friday…” He went on to explain the good that came from it, which is obviously the most wonderful truth to behold, but it seems to me there are a number of helpful descriptors to use in front of the word ‘Friday’ – words that might help us to approach the commemoration of Jesus’ death with appropriate wonder, awe, grief, humility, joy and thankfulness.
Famous author and critical thinker C.S. Lewis is quoted as having said that Christianity can either be true and vital or untrue and useless, it cannot be both and it cannot be somewhere in the middle, containing elements of truth and elements of falsehood.
Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.
The same can be said of the core Christian claim that Jesus, the perfect Son of God who was ‘in very nature God’ (Philippians 2:5-11
), died and rose from the grave on the third day, conquering death once and for all by taking the sins of his people upon himself, cancelling their debt before God and rising from the dead.
Recently I found myself in at least two discussions with professing believers about the nature of the atonement (the process of sinners being made right with God) and the true meaning, and purpose, of the cross of Christ.
Writ large across the pages of scripture and therefore heralded for centuries as one of the central components of the Christian faith is the truth that since sin entered the world through Adam (Romans 5:12-21) we have all fallen short of God’s standard (Romans 3:22-23), none of us is righteous in and of ourselves (Romans 3:9-18), we are all slaves to sin (John 8:34), and we are all deserving of its consequences.
The fact that we all deserve to face the ultimate consequence (or wage) for our sin, but in His mercy God has saved a people for Himself, is to me one of the most awe-inspiring aspects of the Christian gospel message. Romans 6:23 reminds us of this important fact by saying:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
So why would anyone want to twist that message?
This morning, the Easter series at church continued, this time with the theme “imagine a world where death wins”. In some ways we all live in a world where death at least appears to win the mortal battle. As they say, the only certain things in life are death and taxes! Though, for those of us who believe we know that death has not won the war and we delight in the fact that it has lost its sting and will therefore not have a lasting impact on us for eternity. The reason it has lost its power is because of the glorious resurrection of Jesus, who nailed our sin to the cross, fulfilled the death penalty on our behalf and then conquered death itself by rising again. In the words that follow I hope to unpack just a few thoughts about the significance of Resurrection Sunday.
Today is Good Friday, 25 March 2016 – a day to pause from the busyness of life and remember afresh the significance of what Jesus has done for His people.
The title of this post might be confusing at first, particularly due to my use of the term ‘full justice’, but hopefully the meaning of this will soon become clear and you will see as I do the beauty in the truth of the title’s statement.
Today is Good Friday. It’s a day that has always carried somewhat confusing or conflicting emotions for me, at least as long as I can remember. It is a day to remember something that is brutal and yet beautiful, horrific and yet heavenly, tragic… and yet triumphant. It is a day that I want to mourn over the way that humans just like me treated the only one who can save us from our depravity and sin, but it is also a day on which I am reminded of how blessed I am to live on this side of the cross. I know that in suffering for my sake, Jesus who was perfect and was in very nature God humbled himself and became obedient to death on a cross, paying the price that bought me out of slavery to sin and death and therefore separation from God into a new life that will last for forever.