What Makes Good Friday So “Good”?

Luke 9:51 sets what we now call “Holy Week” into motion.  “Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem.”  He knew what would be waiting for Him there.  Nobody else seemed to get it, but Jesus knew; and He still went anyway.  As the events of that week unfolded, He had to have been thinking about what would happen to Him (or rather, what He would allow to have happen to Him) just a few days later.  He conducts a Passover meal with His disciples and explains everything to them…and they still don’t get it.  The clouds are rolling in towards Jerusalem, it’s getting dark.  Jesus can sense the powers, both good and evil, at work.  Satan is putting the pieces in their places to strike a final blow once and for all towards the Messiah.  In order to prepare Himself for what will take place, Jesus spends a few agonizing hours in prayer. So agonizing, in fact, that He was sweating drops of blood, indicating intense psychological distress.  In a few short hours, the sin of the world would be placed on His sinless shoulders and He would bear the weight of it all, taking the full blow of His Father’s wrath in a death we were supposed to suffer.

The flame from the torches are flickering in the distance as the sound of the soldiers footsteps coming to apprehend Jesus get closer, and closer…it’s time.  The soldiers and priests are coming to meet Jesus in the Garden.  One of His own, Judas, who has spent the last three years by Jesus’ side, betrays Him for a mere 30 pieces of silver with a kiss on the cheek.  A soldier reaches for Jesus and the Apostle Peter cuts his ear off in protest.  The man who was willing to fight and die for Jesus in the Garden is the same man who will deny that he ever knew Him later that night.  In a shocking act of love, compassion, and forgiveness Jesus heals the man’s ear and tells Peter to sheath His sword.  It’s time, and Jesus knows this is the only way.

Jesus was unjustly tried and convicted of crimes He did not commit and sentenced to die a criminal’s death by way of crucifixion.  But first, He would be tortured and mocked and spit on, and whipped and beaten.  Most men wouldn’t even survive this long enough to get to the cross.  Jesus was no ordinary man and no one would take His life, but He would give it up when the time had come (John 10:18).

The cross was heavy on His back as He carried up the hill to Golgotha.  His back was already a mass of exposed muscle tissue and torn flesh and the splinters from the wood of the cross beam dug into these already deep wounds causing Him even more pain and anguish as He approached impending death. The soldiers placed a large nail into each wrist and drove them into the cross and mockingly placed a sign above His head which read “This is Jesus, King of the Jews.”  The beatings brought Him to the brink of death without pushing Him over.  All the while, in an unthinkable act of love and mercy, He was asking His father to grant His executioners forgiveness!

Jesus feels the tendons ripping and tearing in His hands and feet as He pushes all His weight on them in order to lift Himself up to breathe.  It’s the only way He can get any oxygen to His lungs.  Normally, the executioners would break the legs of those hanging there so they couldn’t lift themselves up any longer and would eventually die of asphyxiation.  The two thief’s legs were broken and when they got to Jesus, He was already gone.  The Messiah, the promised One of God, had died.  Just to be sure, death threw one final blow to Jesus as the soldier thrust his spear through His lungs and into his heart.  A mixture of blood, water, and love flowed down His body and dripped to the ground.  Death had its victory; the situation was bleak for those associated with Jesus.  Their leader, whom they had given up everything for, was dead.

So why do we call this “Good Friday?”  What’s so good about that?  Here’s why.  Genesis 50:20, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” and Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” and Genesis 3:15 which says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He shall bruise your head, but you shall bruise His heel.”  Death was basking in the glow of victory, but what Satan meant for evil, God intended for good.

To be continued…

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