It’s Good Friday…and a lot of people wonder why, on the day the Savior of mankind was brutally murdered…we would call this Friday “Good.” For me, the answer lies in an encounter Jesus had with a rich young ruler; he was a community leader who believed he was doing everything right: living well, keeping the law to the letter. He struts up to Jesus, and says, “Good Teacher! What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Well, knowing who the guy really was, Jesus first asks, “Why do you call me ‘good?’ Only GOD is good.”
This was that young guy’s chance to say, “but you ARE God,” and if he did, that would have been the answer the rich young ruler was looking for. Recognize Jesus for Who He Is, and that’s called faith—you win! That’s how you gain eternal life! When it became clear that the wealthy young dude believed he had EARNED his way into heaven, Jesus said: “OK, here’s what you have to do. Sell everything you own and give it to the poor. Then, take up your cross and follow me!” Well, the rich man could not give up his stuff, and walked away without the affirmation he was looking for.
Now, does that mean WE’RE supposed to sell everything and give it to the poor, in order to gain eternal life? Of course not! There’s nothing you or I can do to earn or deserve heaven. It wasn't about how much the young ruler had to sacrifice. It’s all about having FAITH that Jesus Christ IS Who He said He Is! Believe in Him, and simply receive the free gift of grace. Amazing.
So the GOOD in Good Friday, is that GOD forever conquered death for those who would simply believe, and put their trust in Jesus for eternal life! I could spend an hour giving you minute detail on exactly what Jesus suffered that day physically, and we’ll NEVER grasp what He dealt with spiritually, but suffice it to say that neither you nor I could have lasted as long as He did. After being brutally beaten to the point of death, He was nailed naked by His hands and feet to a tree, and suspended on that cross in such a way that His arms were pulled out of joint, and He had to push on the nails in his feet just to extend His diaphragm enough to take a breath. That’s what killed you, when you were crucified. it wasn’t the blood loss, or the injuries. You simply couldn’t push up anymore, and you suffocated. And if it took too long, the Roman guard would simply break your legs.
Now, imagine how you’d feel if you endured all of that brutal torture, AND you were completely innocent of any crime? What would be the first thing YOU said to your punishers? Well, in the SIX HOURS He hung there, He spoke only 7 times…and the sum total of His words adds up to less than 30 seconds. Obviously, His ACTIONS spoke louder than any words He could say. But what DID Jesus say, before He died?
“Father, forgive them.” He asked for forgiveness for the people that were killing him!
“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” Imagine you had committed a crime so great, the government had decided that you not only had to DIE, but had to suffer every moment until you drew your last, ragged breath. That’s the sentenced pronounced on Jesus, and the two criminals who hung on either side of Him. One of them professed his faith, and—just as it COULD have been for that rich young ruler—the criminal secured his place in Heaven.
Jesus said to his mother: "Woman, this is your son." Then he said to the disciple: "This is your mother."
A touching, heart-breaking, revealing moment. Purely out of love, Jesus remembered the needs of his aging mother, and assigned His friend John to take care of her.
“I thirst.” Jesus is fully God, but fully human. Like I said, the spiritual toll was enormous, beyond our wildest imaginings…and this is the first expression of physical need Jesus communicates. It stands as a reminder that He knows what it means to be in need.
"It is finished." The Koine or common Greek word is tetelestai, and it means a lot more than simply, “it’s over.” Merchants in Jesus’ time would write that word on a bill of sale, to designate that a debt had been paid in full. No more needed to be given; the obligation was over! For us, the meaning is clear. We don’t have to give a certain amount of money, or do a certain number of good deeds, or say the right number of prayers to be enjoy eternal life! Our sin debt is tetelestai! Jesus paid it all.
With that we come to His final words on the cross: “Father, into Your hands I commit my spirit.” Obedient to the end, Jesus utters one more prayer, and breathes His last. In doing so, we see that Jesus practiced what He preached: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man would lay down his life for his friends."
If YOU’D like to be counted among His friends…ask a Christian family member or coworker, or maybe a pastor...or simply ask me. I'd be thrilled to walk you through the process! And I can assure you this…when you finally do make that decision...you too will always call this Friday “good!”
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