What’s so good about Good Friday? I mean have you ever wondered why we call today, the Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday?
This is the anniversary of the day religious leaders manipulated the civil authority to see Jesus brutalized and executed. First he was beaten and humiliated by the Roman guards. Then they took him out and whipped him to what they considered the point of death. When that was all done, when he was so badly beaten that he no longer even looked human, they marched him out and executed him in one of the most excruciatingly tortuous methods ever devised by mankind: crucifixion.
What could possibly be good about that?
The Problem of Sin
Here’s the thing. Before Jesus came on the scene there was this barrier that kept humanity apart from God. It was called “sin.”
In its simplest form, sin is just operating in contrast to God’s ways or violating his laws.
In the Garden of Eden God gave mankind one simple rule to follow. Adam and Eve could do whatever they wanted as long as they avoided eating the fruit of one specific tree: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Beyond that nothing they wanted to do was off limits.
As we know from Genesis chapter 3, that one simple instruction was too complicated for Adam and Eve. The slick talking serpent was able to get them all jumbled up, turned around to the point where they doubted God and did the only thing he told them not to do. In that act they sinned.
Here’s how the Strong’s Lexicon defines sin.
g0264. ἁμαρτάνω hamartanō; properly, to miss the mark (and so not share in the prize), i. e. (figuratively) to err, especially (morally) to sin: — for your faults, offend, sin, trespass.
I. to be without a share in
II. to miss the mark
III. to err, be mistaken
IV. to miss or wander from the path of uprightness and honour, to do or go wrong
V. to wander from the law of God, violate God’s law, sin
In Moses’ time the Israelites thought having some clear-cut rules so they would know exactly how they could relate to God would be a good thing. So God gave them the Law. It clearly stated that when they obeyed they would be blessed and disobeying came with serious negative consequences.
The trouble is anytime we are faced with a set of rules we are naturally pulled in the direction of breaking them. It’s almost like we’re hard wired to disobey authority.
The Law was God’s standard for perfection. Yet we are imperfect people.
It was a recipe for failure. And that’s exactly what happened.
Even people who outwardly looked to be keeping all the rules were secretly breaking them in their hearts in manipulative, controlling hurtful ways.
So here’s the problem. God wants to hang out with people on the basis of relationship. But people ask for a rule book so they know what they should and shouldn’t do. God give people what they want even though people are inherently unable to keep the rules.
Even though the people are going around breaking every rule in the book, God deeply desires a close relationship with them because he loves them so desperately. But that close relationship can’t happen because the people know they are breaking the rules. They know the consequences listed in the rule book for breaking the rules. As a result, they feel guilt, are afraid of God and the punishment they expect for breaking the rules.
Guilt and fear are horrible basis for a relationship. It makes intimacy impossible. From God’s perspective this is a big problem.
As much as he’d like to, God can’t legally ‘just fix it’ through his power alone. The basis for relationship was broken on mankind’s side, not his.
Fortunately God has a plan. He comes down to earth by actually becoming a man in the person of Jesus Christ. Because a man screwed it up in the first place, legally it will take a man to make it right.
As a man, Jesus is unique in that he truly understands the intimate relationship he has with God. He knows it so well, in fact, that he scandalizes the religious leaders of his day by continually referring to God as his “father.”
Because Jesus understands that relationship he values it above everything else. And it is there in that intimacy that he is able to lead a life without sin even though he is presented with all the same temptations that every person in history has faced.
But what about everyone else?
The Good Friday Solution
You see God had laid it all out in the law. Sin was a serious problem. It had a high price. The Bible says that the results of sin is death. Therefore the only way to deal with sin was by shedding blood.
Once a year the high priest would go into the temple all the way into the holy of holies, which was a sacred inner room that symbolized the very throne room of God in heaven. There the priest would sprinkle the blood of animal sacrifices in payment for the sin of the nation.
But the effect was only temporary. Like taking medicine, the animal sacrifices only dealt with the symptom without ever actually curing the underlying disease. Even though the sacrifices were perfect animals without any blemish, they still had to be done over and over again continually.
The only way to cure the underlying disease of the fallen nature of man was at the cost of a perfect sinless man. That man was Jesus. When his blood was spilled the sin problem was dealt with once and for all. Sin is no longer an issue between God and man.
That’s good news! But it’s not all.
But Wait! There’s More!
If all that was needed to deal with the sin problem was the shedding of blood, why was Jesus beaten so savagely?
No where in the law (that I’m aware of at least) does it talk about roughing up a sacrifice before the blood is spilled. The priests never abused the lambs, goats or cattle before they offered them on the altar.
Is it just that the Romans were unusually sadistic?
Not at all. You see God is not a “just barely enough” God. In truth he’s more of a “wild abundance crazy over and above” God.
Yes God’s plan dealt with the sin issue once and for all. But he went way over and above that and dealt with all of our other problems at the same time.
Isaiah 53 is a chapter that prophesies the execution of Jesus in great detail. As this is already getting long I won’t go into it all. But let’s look at one verse from that chapter.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.— Isaiah 53:5
Isaiah says there are 4 specific things that were accomplished at the cross.
He was wounded for our transgressions. Transgressions are the disobedient things we do that we know are wrong. This is what is commonly referred to as sin, though in fact sin includes both transgressions and iniquities.
Jesus bled to save us from our sins.
He was bruised for our iniquities. Iniquities are all the things inherently wrong with our souls that cause us to do wrong things (i.e. to commit transgressions). This includes things like wrong thinking, beliefs, attitudes, addictions, etc. that keep us in chained down and prevent us from experiencing God’s best in our lives.
Jesus was beaten by the Roman guards to release us from the bondage of our iniquities.
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him. Chastisement means to rebuke. When done correctly, with the proper motives, chastisement is disciplining that brings about correction. In the negative sense, rebuke means to express sharp, stern disapproval of; reprove; reprimand.
The word peace here is the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom is pregnant with meaning far beyond our English word “peace.” It includes prosperity in every sense of the word and in all areas of our lives. Here’s how the Stong’s Lexicon defines shalom:
1) completeness, soundness, welfare, peace
a) completeness (in number)
b) safety, soundness (in body)
c) welfare, health, prosperity
d) peace, quiet, tranquillity, contentment
e) peace, friendship
1) of human relationships
2) with God especially in covenant relationship
f) peace (from war)
g) peace (as adjective)
Jesus was mocked and spit upon so that we can prosper in all areas of our lives.
And by His stripes we are healed. The word healed here specifically refers to physical healing. The Hebrew word means to repair, make whole, to heal. Jesus being scourged right up to the point of death had a purpose in God’s overall plan.
Jesus was whipped so that we can be physically healed and healthy in this life.
Good Friday Indeed
Jesus said, “It is finished” immediately before he died on the cross. This is what he had accomplished and what he meant by that.
- Salvation from our sins
- Deliverance from our bondage
- Prosperity for our entire lives
- Health and healing for our physical bodies
When it’s all said and done, when you take into account everything that God rolled into his redemptive plan, today truly is a good Friday. In fact it’s more than that. It’s the Good Friday.