“When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” – Romans 5:6-10.
Before Easter Sunday there was Friday. Good Friday is the day we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. We want to embrace the resurrection, but Jesus calls us to the cross as well. If you grew up in a Christian-loving household in the 90’s, then Carman needs no introduction. One of Carman’s songs was “Sunday’s on the Way.” The lyrics included: “So when problems try to bury you and make it hard for you to pray. May seem like that Friday night, but Sunday’s on the way.” The point is that Friday is the road to Sunday. There’s no Easter Sunday without Good Friday. There is no resurrection without the cross.
Easter is indeed about the empty tomb. But first, it’s about the cross. We should not be in such a hurry to rush Jesus up to Heaven? We do so because the cross can make us uncomfortable, and doesn’t fit into our picture of how things ought to be. It didn’t fit into anyone’s picture back then, either. Those who had seen Jesus’ power wondered why He seemed powerless at His greatest need. Others wondered how He could miscalculate so badly. They simply missed missed what Jesus and His Father were saying: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives.” (John 12:24) Friday is the road to Sunday. It was the road for Jesus; it is the road for us.
On the cross, we have a God who sees you and me at our worst, and yet still loved us, and was willing to come, in some mysterious way, in the person of Jesus to suffer on our behalf, that we might know him. Think about that for a second: He knew exactly who we are and He still suffered the horrible death of the cross.
This is why, even though there is nothing inherently good about that Friday, that we call it Good Friday. On this day when death died, we see the love of God revealed in Jesus’ suffering. We find a God who truly knows us and yet “humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:8)
- What can we learn from Jesus’ willingness to embrace the suffering He would endure? Why did He do it?
- Have you contemplated the truth that Jesus’ suffering was in part because of your sin, so that you could be forgiven and made right with God? Does it shape your daily life?