April 6, 2012

What's So Good About Good Friday?

There's something tragic about a good man dying. I think back over this past year about the number of beautiful young people who have passed away and are no longer with us: children who battled cancer, young fathers and mothers taken from their young children, babies who never lived to see their first birthdays, and you can't help but wonder, where is the good in that? How can a good God allow the innocent to suffer?

There is no easy answer to that question. It's due in part to the broken world we live in. A world where even the cells of our own bodies rebel against their designed purpose. This is not the way the world was intended to be, and yet, for now, this is the world we live in.

Sometimes the innocent suffer. A while back, there lived a man, a good man. In fact, he never messed up. He showed love to those society overlooked. He fed the poor and made sure that even the young children knew how very special they were. Of course, he confronted people when they needed to be confronted. He was bold like that. He wasn't afraid to speak the truth, even though the truth made people angry.

It made the people so angry, in fact, that they decided to silence him the only way they knew how. One of the people closest to him accepted a bribe to reveal his location. They got a mob together and had him arrested. Since they couldn't find any actual charges to bring against them, they brought in some people to testify falsely, and even though their stories didn't agree, they found him guilty and sentenced him to death.

He was betrayed, mocked, beaten beyond recognition, humiliated in every way possible by a group of angry men. All of his friends ran away in fear, and if I'm honest I probably would have fled as well. It must have been absolutely terrifying.

Sentenced to death and publicly executed in front of his mother and a crowd of spectators. It seemed like justice had been thwarted, and yet, he didn't curse God. He didn't call down fire from heaven. He didn't even ask to be rescued (although he could have). An innocent man suffered, and God allowed it.

What's so good about Good Friday? The answer is not only in what happened on Good Friday two thousand years ago, but in WHY it happened. Jesus gave his life up willingly as a sacrifice. It's one thing to have your life taken; it's a completely different thing to offer yourself for someone else. As a mom, I would offer my life for my children, but the Scripture says that "while we were yet sinners (enemies of God) Christ died for us." That means that Jesus didn't just die for the people who loved and supported him while he walked on Earth. He died for the man who ripped out his beard, and for the soldiers who gambled for his clothes while he slowly died. He died for mankind at its ugliest - not because we deserved it, but because he knew that if mankind ever had hope for a restored relationship with a holy God, it had to be done. He knew that a relationship with God was worth that level of sacrifice. We were created to live in fellowship with God, and even before humanity mangled that opportunity, God had already put together a rescue plan - knowing that even in spite of our choice to walk away from him (a freedom of choice He gave us), He would provide an opportunity for us to return.

God, by his very nature and essence, is good. If he allowed things to go unpunished he would be going against his very nature. You would not consider a judge to be good if he allowed a criminal to walk out of the courtroom without paying the penalty for his crimes. God is a good judge, and the fact is, we've all done things that have hurt others and that have hurt ourselves. Justice demands that a punishment be conveyed and a sentence be carried out.

What's so good about Good Friday? Someone volunteered to take your punishment. To a person who didn't know the purpose behind it, the violent death of an innocent young man would certainly be a tragedy, but little more. As Christians, Good Friday is good because it allows us access to God - something that we could never earn or deserve on our own. To the outsider, it might not make sense why we would take a day to honor an executed man, but to those of us who believe, we can't help but rejoice. Hallelujah, what a savior. Our hero has come and paid the debt that we could never have paid on our own. THAT is why Good Friday is so good and one day, I'll have the opportunity to thank Him in person.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Phillipians 2: 5-11

To read more about the events of Good Friday check out these passages: Matthew 26, Mark 14,  Luke 22, John 18.


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