Millions of people worldwide pause today to celebrate, commemorate, and reflect on the death of Christ on the cross. It is not in dispute that he lived or died. Over 2000 years ago. While some still have difficulty accepting his resurrection, there are millions who live even today to acknowledge and testify to their own personal encounter with a real Jesus who changed them from the inside out. As I think on this day, I cannot help but remember what he went through back then. You may have seen many films, plays, re-enactments, or read the story about Jesus, but nothing can compare to what was seen by those who were there to witness it for themselves.
It’s one thing to have been betrayed by someone who walked with you for 3 and a half years. It’s yet a whole other story to know that none of the other 11 ever stood up to come to your defense. Jesus faces a series of trails in a matter of hours. He was beaten until his flesh was torn apart and he became unrecognizable to anyone who knew him. Much of it was done in the presence of those who him and walked with him for years. His own mother endured the harsh reality of seeing her child take every form of abuse that could be done to a human.
The idea that this man had been born as a baby to a young woman who never knew a man is celebrated by many. Yet, I often wonder if she truly understood that when Gabriel declared to her on that night so many years prior, that what he would face would mean he would face a cross before he ruled and reigned over the house of Jacob forever (Luke 1:31-33)? There is no mention of a death in the word that came to her. Nor is there a word of it that came to Joseph who was encouraged not to leave her. Although Jesus had often spoken to his followers of what he would face, I honestly believe that their collective idea of Jesus as Messiah did not include a death on the cross.
So this Jesus face rejection, despised by his own people, abuse by the Romans, convicted to the worst form of death imaginable, with trumped up charges. He watched as the same court that condemned him and set a guilty man free. Then this same Jesus was hung on a cross between two thieves. While Jesus could have handily and justly proclaimed his innocence or freed himself from all of it, he bore it all because the greater glory was in being a seed planted.
His death, while horrific and harsh, unjust and unwarranted for him, paved the way to freedom for us. It is an eternal gratitude that I will have because I know it is what each and everyone of us truly deserve as people born in sinful flesh. Jesus being perfect took a penalty he did not deserve, to provide a people from the beginning of human existence until the end of time could gain a reward that we didn’t deserve.
Whatever you do today, however, you choose to reflect or commemorate the day, know that it’s a Good Friday not because of anything so trivial as simply an excuse to have another holiday. It is truly a Holy Day to remember that he unjustly took everything negative that could be done to anyone so that everyone who justly deserved it could gain a reward of everything positive that we never deserve nor could earn on our own.
QUESTION: What does Good Friday mean to you? How will you show your gratitude?