This Good Friday doesn’t look so good in the news. One quick glance at the headlines this morning was, frankly, depressing: Parents sentenced to life for torturing their own children; Two administrations in a row ignoring massive cyber attacks that have gravely diminished trust in our democratic system; Two young teen girls hatching a plot to murder nine of their peers, now facing serious prison time…
What in the world is going on? We all know it’s not just this Friday.
From our perspective, Good Friday was ‘good’ because it was necessary. When someone suffers or dies for a noble cause we rightly pause to honor the sacrifice. In this country we have Memorial Day, First Responders Day, 9/11, etc. to commemorate such honorable surrender of the greatest gift. We humbly bow our heads to contemplate the kind of selflessness that lays down one’s life that others might live.
Yet Good Friday is fundamentally different in one important aspect – It fundamentally affects the spiritual reality for every single person who was ever lived and who will ever be born, even those never to see the light of day. It reveals such holiness, such goodness, such ugliness and such horror that even a minute’s honest contemplation overwhelms us, angers us, undoes us. God, willingly, gave over His beloved Son to a lynch mob. He let the rest of his beloved children do the Devil’s work and pour out their wrath on Himself. As far as God is concerned, Good Friday is only good because HE is GOOD. And the Word says that because we are the descendants of idolaters and murderers, we were there when Jesus breathed His last as Man’s scapegoat.
Friends, we don’t get off lightly, here. The Father and Spirit wept for a dying Son, and still turned away from Him when we did our worst. The Son wept for us, and for an unimaginably aching abandonment. In His last words, Jesus gives up. In the situation He finds himself, what does “Into Thy hands I commit my spirit” really mean?
Jesus knows He’s been rejected by His own Father. He knows He’s about to die. He knows the rage, despair and Sin focused on Him by every soul staring at His broken body. I’m convinced what His words mean is this: “Father, if you can’t accept Me alive, then take Me dead – I have nowhere else to go. Do with Me what You will.”
I think we’ll understand better why Good Friday is ‘good’ if we can say the same thing to God today. The Cross shows us that we have to die before we can even think about living. We’re being called into Christ. We will never have to go where He went after He died, but we must take seriously what He did, and go where He now goes. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves a bit. There’s still the world’s most sorrowful Sabbath and a rebirth of Creation to come before we get to really live.
It’s enough to stay in the confusion of today and confess that Good Friday is ‘Good’ because God Himself is Good.