It always seemed strange, maybe even a little morbid, that this day is called “Good” Friday. This is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion of Christ.
What’s so good about that?
A dear friend once asked me, “What’s the point of Jesus? I get God. I just don’t get Jesus. Jesus just sort of gets in the way for me.” After some discussion, though, we both concluded that if you don’t see yourself as someone in need of a Savior, Jesus would get in the way.
I am not one of those people.
I know my own heart all too well. I know when I act in jealousy, pride—even hatred.
If our one purpose is to love, I fail more often than I care to admit. I love myself too much to love my enemies, and I don’t always even love my friends as I should.
So I cannot fulfill those two commands that Jesus said were the culmination of all the laws: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and spirit. Love your neighbor as yourself. Just two little commands. That’s all.
But love for self prevents me from fulfilling them. And THAT is what sin is all about. It is a failure to love. It is, sometimes, a refusal to love. A just and loving God cannot turn a blind eye to a refusal to love. He would no longer be just and loving. Sin must be addressed.
Therein lies the rub. How could we ever “pay” for the sin of failure to love God or love others? What is the price of that ticket? Even if we could pay, that wouldn’t solve our problem. We’d fail again, and again, and again, until we’d owe an eternal debt that could never be paid.
And THAT is what Good Friday is all about. God stepped in and said, “Child, I cannot turn a blind eye when you refuse to love. But I can show you what Love looks like by paying your debt. I will bear this burden on your behalf because I love you.” God didn’t even wait until we appreciated or acknowledged this self-sacrificial act. No, we are still quite enjoying our self-consumed journey—not even seeing the need for God to intervene. Yet, God steps in anyway.
That’s not just good news. It’s stupendous. We should calls this “Stupendous Friday.” God’s self-emptying, ego-less, utterly humble love should leave us speechless.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5, NIV)