This coming Friday will be Good Friday, the day that Jesus died for our sins. Some people struggle with how Christians can call it Good Friday. After all, that is the day Jesus died a horrible death on the cross. Why describe such an event as good? Why commemorate it by adorning our homes and bodies with crosses? Isn’t that morbid?
I can see where people are coming from with those questions. Normally I would totally agree. Crucifixions were terrible. They were so horrible that I wonder how anybody could willingly witness them.
But it’s the very horror of Jesus’ crucifixion that emphasizes why we call it Good Friday. It is a good day because here, at Christ’s cross, we are observing the ultimate expression of God’s love for us. God the Father willingly sacrificed his Son for us. Jesus willingly suffered all this for us! They did this because they knew that this was the only way that we could live with them forever in heaven. It was crystal clear to them that there was no way anybody could save themselves. Sin had spiritually killed us all. We were dead in sin. And dead people can’t do anything.
Therefore they did it all for us. But that entailed much more than Jesus suffering that tremendous physical pain. He had to experience the abandonment of his Father – because that was the true price for sin. It wasn’t the nails driven into his hands that caused him the greatest pain – it was when he cried, out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” There Jesus was drinking to the full the cup of God’s wrath – the thought of which had so terrified him in the garden.
Pause for a moment to stand in awe of that. Marvel at the Father not only allowing his Son to be sacrificed. He was also the one who was punishing him for our sins! He wasn’t a bystander in this. He was an active participant. It was his plan – it was his will – it was his initiative to unleash his anger over our sin on his beloved Son.
View this also from Jesus’ perspective. From all eternity he had been united with his Father in a union so intimate that it is beyond our understanding. From all eternity there had never ever been even a hint of friction between the two. But now he experienced nothing less than abandonment. There is no way we can begin to fathom the agony that caused him. But he endured that – for you and for me.
Jesus drank the cup of God’s wrath down to the dregs. We know that because he told us so. That is the significance of the, “it is finished” that he uttered from the cross. In the original Greek, that phrase consists of only one word. It was used to mark bills paid in full. In this striking way, therefore, Jesus declared that he had fully paid our debt of sin.
By raising Jesus gloriously from the dead, the Father dramatically showed that he accepted that payment. If Jesus had not paid for our sins, after repeatedly saying that is what he was going to do, there would be no way that the Father would have exalted him by raising him so gloriously. Jesus’ resurrection is our receipt proving that he truly did pay our debt.
Down through the centuries, Christians have clung tenaciously to these facts. When voices from within or without call into question the completeness of that payment, they stand firm on the fact that, because of Jesus, they can view their debt of sin as paid in full. There is no greater joy or relief than that. On the cross Jesus drowned our sins in the depths of the sea. He separated them from us as far as the east is from the west. That is why this coming Friday truly deserves being called Good Friday.