A passionate prayer
A traitorous arrest
A trumped up charge
A false trial
Lying witnesses
A denying disciple
Washed hands
Unrighteous remorse
A Place called Skull
A remote crossroads of the world
Between two thieves
Sneering rulers
Scoffing bystanders
Abusive soldiers
Insensitive crucifiers
A repentant robber
A new mother and her new son
Weeping women
A worshipping Centurion
Three hours of darkness
The earth shakes
Some living dead
A criminal's cross
A sealed stone
Salvation!

Salvation? How can the salvation of all mankind happen in this way? In this ignominious, inglorious way? How can this be? That all of the sins of all who have ever lived or are living or will live are paid for on a criminal's cross? Aren't criminals most in need of forgiveness? Can criminals even be forgiven? How can a Man who hung on a criminal's cross pay for all the sin of all people?

And in Jerusalem of all places. Why not Rome, the political capital of the world? Or Athens, the cultural capital of the world? Or Alexandria, the educational capital of the world? Or Ephesus, one of the economic capitals of the world? Or Corinth, certainly one of the sin capitals of the world? Yes, that's it, why wasn't sin paid for in one of the greatest sin centers of history?

It just doesn't make sense. How can this Friday be Good? And how could salvation happen in this way?

No blaring trumpets, no glorious angels, no parades of power and purity, just another Friday crucifixion in the ancient Roman empire. Amazing. Excruciatingly painful, but almost ho-hum for the Roman soldiers. Just one more criminal to throw on the trash heap of history and off we go for a few drinks and a good time of gaming.

Yet salvation did come this way. Yes, it did!

God had worked for thousands of years to provide His salvation. First there was creation, then rebellion, and then rejection, banishment, separation - we were cut off from God and Life. But that's when God began the redemption process, first with promises, then with prophecies, and all with purpose, the purpose of demonstrating His power through His weakness as He kept His promises and fulfilled His prophecies. His Son became one of us: His Son became His Slave, His sacrifice. our Savior. And in Jerusalem.

God loves weakness because weakness is the greatest way He can show His power. How can an ordinary Man who isn't even worthy of a second look become our Savior? But He did through the power of God's weakness in Jerusalem.

How can Jerusalem become the place of salvation? Jerusalem was a world capital in the ancient Roman Empire. One of the greatest structures of all, Herod's Temple, was in Jerusalem. The city was a spiritual capital in the empire, but Jerusalem was different from the other world capitals. It was... well, it was Jewish, quirkish, lavish in its own way, but certainly not in the Roman way. Jerusalem was really a weak world capital, crushed under the Roman heel. But God had made Jerusalem the center of His salvation purposes, the place where all His promises would be fulfilled, an unlikely place populated by some very unlikely people. How like God to do this.

This is my salvation, my deliverance, my eternal life started on earth and slated to last forever. Again, I must ask how can this be? How can a five-year old fatherless and familyless little boy get father, mother, and family in the blink of an eye? How can that little boy receive a call to serve God? How can that little boy grow up to be blessed with mentors and marriage and sons and daughters-in-law and grandchildren, and faithful friends full of love for him? How can that be? Only because God glories in taking the weak and making us His vessels of glory.

It has been many years since God saved me and I still serve Him. Salvation never ends; why should service? And may I die as Jesus died: with a cross on my back, resurrection in my heart, and the interests of God on my mind.

What has your salvation been? Can you join with me in this Good Friday season and rejoice in God's salvation for you? Think of what He has done for you and join me.

Bill

Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International (LFI) as well as Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. 
Bill began LFI in 2002 to minister to leaders around the world who are impacting the nations for Christ. Having watched God form his own life as a leader-mentor over thirty-seven years in ministry (including twelve years as a founding pastor, twelve years as the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership, and over twenty-three years as a seminary faculty member), Bill helps other leaders recognize the reality that their success as a leader depends upon God's formative work in their heart. Bill has been privileged to personally serve leaders in Asia, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. He has also produced a six-part video/workbook series, Forming Davids for the 21st Century, which is a perfect resource to help groups of individual leaders engage with each other in the leader formation journey.

Publication date: April 21, 2010