“32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.”
2 Corinthians 5:21
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
“9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Good Friday is good because we are not. Good Friday is good precisely because we are wretched. Completely and utterly wretched.
I find that the longer I walk with Jesus, the more aware of just how offensive my sin is and just how much I have not previously fully comprehended it. Even when asking forgiveness with broken heart, so often I don’t fully, even then, appreciate the depth of the offense of the very sin I’ve allowed to entangle me as I run the race and seek to follow Christ. But even that sin, even my ignorance and imperfect confession of it, Jesus died to pay the penalty of it, and I stand before Him a new creation, clothed not in a righteousness of my own that can never measure up, but in His perfect righteousness through the redemption purchased by His precious blood and applied to my account. It is finished. The debt is paid. I am bought with a price and I am His. That is enough to take my breath away in awe and bring me to my knees with fresh tears of gratitude when I ponder it. Every so often, as I ponder the gospel, I’m struck again by the depth and breadth and sweep of the amazing grace, mercy, forgiveness, love and hope we are shown in the cross and Jesus’ resurrection.
I’ve been thinking recently on how incredible it is that as Jesus was dying on the cross, He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I’ve been thinking about it from several angles. First of all, the mercy of His compassion for the very ones who mocked and crucified Him. This staggers me the more I think about it. The love He pours out on us, when we are so pridefully ignorant. Yet He loved us, not because we were good, but in order to show His grace toward us in all of our wretchedness. He came to save sinners. And then I think of the sheer immensity of the fact that Immanuel, God With Us, condescended to the shame of being spit upon and mocked by the very ones He created and whose very breath is a gift from His hand. Scandalous. Shocking. And I’m struck by the fact that it is not only the people there at that moment who bear the weight of the sheer audacity of the guilt of hating their God. I bear that weight, too. As does everyone who walks and has walked this earth. We are rebels and sinners at heart, far from God. All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone seeks his own way and is a rebel to the very God who made us. None of us have clean hands.
But God....some of the most beautiful words in the entire Bible!.....but God, in His mercy, while we were yet sinners and rebels and far from God, sent His only begotten Son to fulfill all of the law and to die on the cross in our place. He took the wrath that I deserve, and now I can stand in His presence, declared righteous, forgiven, reconciled to God. Because to everyone who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. The most amazing good news that ever was.
This Good Friday, may we ponder the gospel, the greatest news that ever was told. May we ponder what it means that to everyone who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him. And He will not cast out those who come to Him in repentant faith and rest all their hope in Christ alone.
This is why Good Friday is good.