Think of it. The blackest, darkest Friday of all time. Christ is hanging, suffering unbearably on a cross. This is the day labeled Good Friday by those who claim to love Him most. “Good for who???” might be a question that pops into the mind of a child who has been taught from birth that Jesus loves everyone and is always good. Even teens or adults who have not grown up hearing the full story of Jesus might look at the suffering Savior and His weeping friends and ask the same question.
I certainly had questions at the age of 6. I was coloring a picture in Sunday School of Jesus hanging on the cross. I stopped coloring and just stared at that horrible scene as tears streamed down my face. My concerned teacher asked why I was crying. I turned my little tear stained face up to her and simply asked, “If He was so good, why did they want to kill Him?” It was a simple question from a young child but it hovers in the back of the minds of all who don’t fully understand the reason Jesus came, had to come, willingly entered our world.
Viewing the cross without an understanding of the birth and the resurrection labels that day as anything but good. Seeing the anguish and hearing the groans of Jesus on the cross surrounded by the weeping women and His lone faithful follower, John, as they grieve the loss of their dearest friend and faithful teacher stirs empathy not joy. Perception is not everything. Spiritual things, need revelation and many times interpretation to be fully understood.
It looks like Jesus has been taken captive by His enemies. It seems that He is being killed by those who hate Him. It looks as though He is sorrowful beyond belief. In one sense, all these things have a thread of truth in them. It is only through looking at the whole story from beginning to end that we can grasp why those who love Jesus the most would call such a horrific scene, good. The rest of the story gives us the ability to look past the sorrow, the suffering, and the defeat, to understand the joy, and the victory that took place on that fateful Friday.
As we share the Easter Message let us be careful to include it all. To overlook the suffering and the sorrow felt and experienced by those who were there would diminish the truth and power of the life of Christ in daily relationships that were deep and meaningful. To only focus on their sorrow and grief and His horrendous suffering would also diminish the truth of Scripture that gives us the why and the how of our very salvation story.
Scripture tells us that He knew before He came that He was coming to suffer and die. Isaiah 53 is a prophecy about Jesus’ suffering. John 10:17-18 tells us that no one took His life from Him. He willingly gave it up to those who would mock Him and want to kill Him. He did die. The Sinless One was sacrificed, took our sins as His own, we read in 2 Corinthians 5:21.
In 1 Peter 1:10-11 NET BIBLE, we read, “10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who predicted the grace that would come to you searched and investigated carefully. They probed into what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when he testified beforehand about the sufferings appointed for Christ and his subsequent glory.” Yes, there was suffering but there was also great glory!
As we celebrate Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection Sunday, let’s be sure to tell the whole story and the great motivation behind it. For God so loved the world (you and me) that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus who willingly offered His own sinless life in place of our sinful rebellious one) that who so ever believes in Him (Jesus the one who died, was buried, and rose again) shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (my paraphrase)