Today we “celebrate” Good Friday. The crucifixion of a man is an interesting thing to celebrate. Normally we don’t observe year after year the day when a person dies. Usually we celebrate a person’s birth, but rarely death. We don’t celebrate death because death isn’t fun, it isn’t something that evokes in us the type of joy that causes celebration. I guess this is one more thing that sets Jesus apart.
So, not only do we celebrate his death, but we also have the audacity to call it “good.” His death, good. Certainly not for him, may we never forget that. The night that he was betrayed Luke recounts him praying in the garden (ch 22). It was here that Jesus prayed,
“42“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”
Good? For us certainly, but I don’t think that is the picture that the scripture paint of the way that Jesus viewed it. The author of Hebrews reminds us that, “for the joy set before him he endured the cross…” The joy was not hanging on the cross, but what was set before him, what awaited him.
I’m not sure that I’m sold on the verbiage of “good Friday.” It was good for me. He paid the penalty of my sin on that Friday. Made a way back to God on the Friday. Demonstrated his love for humanity in the form of arms stretched out, nailed pierced hands, spear pierced side, crown of thorns, blood flowing down. The prophet Isaiah writes it like this:
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet he did not open his mouth;
he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before her shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away.
And who can speak of his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul,
he will see the light of life and be satisfied ;
by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many,
and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Yes, that Friday was good for me. Needed for me.
However, it seems to me that so often I want to fast-forward to the empty tomb – and indeed, that makes this Friday good. But, today I will dwell on Friday. Good Friday? I guess “good” is a relative term.