On Good Friday, while we go through our daily routines, use your imagination and travel back with me twenty centuries to the dusty roads of southern Palestine.
The son is appearing over the horizon. By this time, the rooster has crowed, alerting Simon Peter to the fact that, just as Jesus predicted, he would deny Jesus not once, but three times during the previous night. The other disciples have scattered in fear.
Jesus has spent the entire night facing an illegal, hostile, kangaroo court designed to railroad him into a verdict of execution.
The Jewish leaders have demanded an audience with Pontius Pilate, who, normally in Caesarea, is in Jerusalem because of the crowds associated with Passover. Pilate tolerates the Jewish leaders, hearing them out. But, seeing through their false accusations, Pilate agrees not (yet) to have Jesus executed, but to have him flogged. (death may be less cruel)
Jesus is about to have his back shredded and ripped from his body, producing voluminous blood-loss and hypovolemic shock. This was the type of torture from which prisoners often died. The Roman writer, Cicero, described it as “the cruelest and most hideous punishment possible.”
But, the crowds aren’t satisfied with the flogging. They want death! “Crucify him!”, they shout repeatedly. So the verdict is handed down….the death penalty. For only Rome has the authority to execute a death sentence. And their favorite form of execution? Crucifixion.
Crucifixions are “events” intended to send a message of terror to the onlooking crowds: “Thinking about rebelling again Rome? Behold! This is your fate should you follow through.”
But, this is Good Friday, right? Given Jesus’ condition, how could anyone ever describe it as “good?”
Because, without the crucifixion, there can be no resurrection.
I saw a sign once sitting outside a coffee shop on the Friday prior to Easter. It read:
“Come on in – where every Friday is Good – and no one has to die.”
That’s a nice sentiment, I guess. But it completely contradicts what God says:
Translation: The verdict is in. We’re all guilty of sin. Every last one of us. And God’s payment to us – the wages we have earned for our sin – is death. An eternal death sentence.
Today, consider Him who died, so that we wouldn’t have to.
To put it in the words of contemporary culture:
From John MacArthur’s brilliant “God With Us”:
“Think for a moment about how Jesus died. It was not an easy, gentle passing from this world. It was excruciating agony and torture of the worst kind, for it was on a cross. He suffered in His death. He drank the bitter cup at Calvary in its fullness – He drained it to the last drop. He experienced all the pain, all the loneliness, all the torments that have ever been associated with death…..The death He tasted was the penalty of our sin.
The prophet Isaiah, seven centuries before Christ was born, put it this way:
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain,… Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,… He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (53:3-5; emphasis mine)
Jesus Christ received the full force of all that the devil could throw at Him. More than that (far more), He received the full expression of God’s wrath over sin.”
Contrary to the sign outside the coffee shop, according to God – someone did have to die.
So Christ did. For us. Willingly.
Why? Because of his relentless love for us all.
It’s Friday,…but Sunday’s Comin’, Nick