Very Good Friday

The day a loved one dies is not ordinarily called a “good day,” at least from the world’s perspective. We are taken aback when we discover that all those saints’ days we celebrate are not their birth days but their death days. The death day of a loved one, from a worldly perspective, can hardly be called “good.” Sad, tragic, somber, grief-filled – certainly. And yet we call this day “Good Friday,” the day our Lord Jesus hung on a cross and died a horrible death.

The goodness of this Friday is a matter of faith.

The facts of good Friday are these: Jesus was betrayed by one of His own disciples, Judas, and arrested. He was tried before the religious high court and the high priest and was found worthy of death, guilty of blasphemy against the name of God. He was hauled before the civil authorities, represented by Herod and Pontius Pilate, and was sentenced to death for the crime of treason. He was denied by Peter, beaten by soldiers, mocked, spit at, scorned, crowned with thorns. He was stripped and crucified between two convicted terrorists at 9 o’clock on Friday morning. At noon it became very dark. At three in the afternoon, the hour of the evening sacrifice, the hour the lambs were slain, Jesus cried “It is finished,” and died. To ensure His death, a spear was jabbed into His side, causing water and blood to flow from His already dead body.

Those are the plain facts of history, attested to by eyewitnesses that included Jesus’ mother Mary, His mother’s sister, the wife of Clopas, Mary Magdalene, and John, the apostle and evangelist whom we heard. This is all simply a matter of historical fact.

The matter of faith is that all this is for you and for your salvation. Faith clings solely to the Word. Hear these Scriptures for your faith and life:

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” (John 3:14)

“When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I AM, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28)

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 12:32)

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us – for it is written, ‘Cursed be every one who hands on a tree.” (Galatians 3:13)

“For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died.” (2 Cor. 5:14)

“For our sake He (God) made Him (Christ) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Cor. 5:21)

“God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since therefore, we are not justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.” (Romans 5:8)

“My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2)

“Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth.” (Rev. 5:9-10)

The cross of Jesus is the ultimate paradox. The Light of the world hangs in darkness. The Source of living water thirsts. The innocent One dies for the guilty. The One clothed in divine majesty hangs in naked shame. The King of kings is enthroned on a cross. The One who is “in the bosom of the Father” is forsaken by God. The One who is the Life of all hangs dead.

In His thirst, is your refreshment. In His nakedness is your garment of righteousness. In His rejection is your acceptance. In His forsakenness is your inclusion. In his wound is your healing. In His blood is your forgiveness. In His death is your life.

Jesus is the fulfillment of all the OT pictured. He is the lamb skinned to clothe Adam and Eve. He is the whole burnt offering, bled out and consumed for another’s sin. He is the evening and morning sacrifice. He is the scapegoat and atoning sacrifice of Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. He is every lamb and goat and bull slain in the temple and offered to God for the sins of the people. He is the ram that saved Isaac from the knife. He is the Passover lamb, whose blood marks the doorpost of freedom, whose flesh is the food of Israel. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

“It is finished.”. This is Jesus’ last word in humble obedience unto death. Finished, accomplished, worked to its conclusion. There is nothing more to be done for your salvation. Not by Him, nor by you, except for Him to give and for you to receive. Humanity’s redemption is done to death. Adam’s sin, and yours, is answered. Justice is done. All that remains now is Sabbath rest.

On the sixth day, the Friday of man’s creation, when God looked over everything He had made, He said “very good.” On the sixth day, when Jesus the Christ, the Son of God incarnate, looked over all that He had redeemed, He hung His head in death on the cross and said, “It is finished.”

And we, with God, say, “Very good.” It is a very good Friday.

In the name of Jesus,
Amen.

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