Today is Good Friday! The origin of the term “Good” is unclear, but for Christians everywhere around the world, it really doesn’t matter. They could have called this day of memorial whatever they wanted to because regardless of whatever it was called, it could not change the momentous event it commemorated. Over two thousand years ago, Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, having left the splendors of heaven approximately thirty-three earth years earlier, hung on a cross between two thieves, accused of blasphemy by those to whom He had come as the visible manifestation of God, and of treason by the Romans.
How could they not have known who He was? Those Chief Priests and Elders who were practitioners of the Scriptures that spoke so eloquently of Him (John 5:39). He was the promised Messiah, as was announced in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). Still, on this day, here He was, “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows … He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7, ESV). He knew this was His purpose; the Father had determined it from before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20). The blood of animals or turtledoves could not pay the price for humankind’s redemption. It would take the shedding of His blood, an event that would cause God the Father to momentarily forsake Him (Matthew 27:46), to bring us back into right standing with God. Centuries earlier, Isaiah foreseeing the day, said of Him: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5).
The human side of Jesus anguished at the thought of His crucifixion, but He willingly yielded to the will of the Father (Luke 22:42). Everything about that day was for you and me. It was our griefs that He bore and our sorrows that He carried. It was our transgressions for which He was wounded, our iniquities for which He was crushed. Our chastisement was upon Him, but out of all of that came our peace with God, and by His stripes, thank God, we have been made whole. Christ’s death on that Roman cross was not the end; rather, it triumphantly proclaimed our beginning.
As we reflect on this day, and in a time when the Cross and all that it represents is much despised, may we join with the old hymn-writer and sing:
“In that old rugged cross, stained with blood so divine, a wondrous beauty I see
So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it some day for a crown.”