What's "Good" about Good Friday?


Today is "Good Friday," the day Christians pause to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

As familiar as this label is to us, to anyone living in the first century, a crucifixion was anything but good. It was grotesque. Crucifixion, besides being horrifyingly painful, was a terrifying reminder or Rome's brutal power. To be crucified was to be a sub-human crushed under the heel of Rome's totalizing power. It was a terror weapon, an instrument of control.

That is why Paul writes in I Corinthians 1:18, "The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness." The brutal execution of Jesus of Nazareth by Rome would have been, in the eyes of the ancient world, a complete tragedy, an embarrassing horror. Jesus, the one on whom so many had pinned their hopes of a Messianic Kingdom was Himself pinned hideously to a Roman cross to writhe out his final hours in agony. 

Shameful? Yes. 
Good? Absolutely not.  

But Paul continues: "...but unto us which are saved it is the power of God...God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence" (I Corinthians 1:18, 27-29).  

In the cross, God was doing something that no one that Friday comprehended: He was saving sinners. Jesus, though very God of very God, took on human flesh, humbled Himself to death, and not just any death, but cross-death (Philippians 2:5-8). He died, not as a helpless victim, but as a willing sacrifice, a sacrifice to take away the sin of the world. 

Good Friday is good because, on that dark day, God irrefutably proved "His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus died in our place as our substitute, bearing the wrath we deserved, paying the penalty we had racked up, handing over the ransom price for our freedom, and doing all that was necessary to save us from eternal judgment (II Corinthians 5:17). 

This is why the Bible calls the message of the cross "good news" or "gospel:" it's the good news that sinners can be reconciled to God, that sins can be eternally blotted out, that eternal life can be lavished on death-deserving scoundrels, that sonship will be granted to repentant rebels. 

That is Good News coming from that Good Friday. 

If you do not know the assurance that your sins are forgiven, turn to Christ today in utter reliance and contrite repentance knowing that "whoseover shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." 

If you are saved, pause to praise the One who has carried our sins to the depths of the sea. 

Good Friday indeed!


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