Clank. Clank. Clank.
The sound of heavy nails dropping into a metal bucket was a somber end to the Good Friday service at our church this evening. Each nail was to represent our sins, and I broke down in tears as I sat in the sanctuary and listened to the cacophony of “sins” being left behind at the cross of Jesus.
Today, we remember death. It should seem strange to an outsider to watch people gather together year after year to celebrate Someone’s death. Not just to remember but to take joy in it, to cherish it, to embrace it for the sake of their own life. But here we are again, on Good Friday, to do just that. We rejoice in the death of Jesus.
As we were walking into church, thunder was rolling in the clouds above, and the sky was beginning to cry. It seemed fitting that the darkness seemed to hover over our ceremony as we reflected on the One Who gave His life for ours. It reminded me of the day when Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed” (Is 53:5).
If you wonder if Jesus loves you, look at this day and ask yourself why He would do these things.
1. He was betrayed (Lk. 22:47-48). He had already pointed Judas out as the betrayer during the Last Supper. When Judas left the group, Jesus could have told them all to hurry and pack up their belongings and get out of town. He could have hidden somewhere for awhile. He could have killed Judas. But He allowed the betrayal to take place and went peacefully. Why would He do that?
2. He was denied (Lk. 22:54-62). His best friend, Peter, had just the night before vehemently declared that He would never deny knowing Jesus. Yet, when the pressure was on, Peter turned on Him and abandoned Him in His greatest hour of need. He was left all alone when He needed His friends the most. But where were they? He could have called out to Peter, but He didn’t. He could have pointed Peter out to the crowd and declared that He knew him. But He didn’t. He simply turned and looked at Peter. I am sure He was hurt, but He remained silent. Why would He do that?
3. He was mocked and beaten (Lk. 22:63-65). Anyone who is being bullied would at least try to fight off their attackers. They would respond to someone mocking them. They would cry out for help. But Jesus didn’t. Why would He do that?
4. He was falsely accused (Lk. 23:1-5). They accused Him of stirring up the people and trying to tell them to not pay their taxes, and they accused Him of trying to take over as king. Even after Pilate, and then Herod, found Him innocent, the religious leaders continued to bear false witness against Him and to try to convince the authorities to sentence Him to death. He could have spoken out against the accusations or agreed to stop stirring up the people, but He didn’t. Why would He do that?
5. He was sentenced to die in place of a murderer (Lk. 23:18-25). Jesus was found innocent, yet they chose to release Barabbas, a known murderer, in order to put Jesus to death. This part of the story, above all else, should make you stop and wonder Who this Jesus was! Why would they be so determined to kill Someone Who was found innocent? Why would the leaders allow it? Why would the people want it? Jesus could have fought the accusations. He could have struck out at the people who were turning on Him. Yet He quietly, humbly, accepted the sentence and took the place of not just one man but all of humanity! Why would He do that?
At this point, Jesus has lost friends and has been falsely accused to death. He has been mocked and beaten. He is being paraded through town as people spit on Him, blaspheme Him, and abuse Him. He could have fought back. He could have responded in hate. He could have called down fire on these people. But He didn’t. Instead, He responds to those who are mourning for Him:
“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?” – Lk. 23:28-31.
Even in His weakest moments, Jesus’ thoughts were still on the people He had come to save. A lesser man would have given up his quest at this point, giving in to his flesh and abandoning those who abandoned him. But not our Jesus!
Then He was hung on a cross. Nails were driven into His feet and His hands. His beautiful hands–the same hands that had touched and healed so many–were disfigured because of my sins, because of your sins. He hung between two criminals, who deserved their punishment, and took the wrath that was meant for me. And for you. And the people who had welcomed Him into their city with open arms just the week before were now fighting over who would have pieces of His clothing, spitting on Him, mocking Him, and laughing at His pain.
Still, He didn’t lash out. He didn’t spit back at them. He didn’t even try to save Himself. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:34a). And even in His last moments, He was still saving people.
One of the criminals who were hanged railed at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And He said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in paradise” – Lk. 23:39-43.
And then, the darkness came. The curtain was torn in two. And as He breathed His last breath, His Father turned His face away from Him, unable to look upon His Son while covered in the sins of humanity. He chose to be abandoned in His last minutes before death. Why would He do that?
But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us – Rom 5:8.
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends – Jn. 15:13.
Friend, if you don’t know yet that God loves you, Good Friday is the day that gives you all the evidence you need! If you are standing on the outside, wondering why all of these churches are rejoicing in Christ’s death today, then you haven’t learned what we who follow Christ have learned! We know the Truth. We know His love. And you can, too. When He suffered that day and died on that cross, when darkness replaced the Light and death seemed to have the victory, He already knew your name, and He paid your debt. All you need to do is accept His gift.
As we came out of the service this evening, the rain was gone, and there was just fresh, clean air to breathe in. It felt as though God were reminding us that He took away our sins and that we have been made new.
Today is Good Friday because He is good, and we have Good News to share!
*Please feel free to message me if you want to know more about this Good News! I would love to share my Savior with you!