Scripture: John 19
Formerly, when working with students, both as a youth pastor and a high school Bible teacher, I recall being amused by the reality that a word in my vocabulary could have very different meaning from the same word in theirs. Words didn’t always mean what they appeared to on the surface. For example, a student calling something “bad” often meant it was “good.” Something “hot” was often, in reality, something very “cool” in terms of style. A student calling something “sick” didn’t mean medicine was needed, in fact it usually meant that thing was “awesome.”
In a silly, but truly helpful way, perhaps this aids us in understanding why we call the Friday on which Jesus Christ was crucified “good”? Should not that day live in perpetual infamy? Should it not be held up as the greatest instance of injustice and evil the world has ever known? Is it not, in reality, a day of great evil and not goodness? The answer of course is on one hand, yes, that Friday long ago was the pinnacle of evil and the greatest of injustices as the perfect, innocent Son of God was killed at the hands of humans he, himself, created. That Friday long ago was the Devil’s best work on display for all the world to see…
Or was it?
You see the gospel teaches us that yes, the cross was evil, and, yes, the cross was unjust viewed through finite, human eyes. And yet, the gospel teaches us that through those worldly means and through the Devil’s seemingly greatest triumph, the highest “good” was actually being achieved: the substitutionary atonement for mankind’s sin by God himself in the bloody and crucified body of the man, Jesus Christ. God had taken the Devil’s greatest weapons – death and condemnation – and absorbed them into himself, thereby breaking their curse. God had taken mankind’s sinful leger and attributed it to his perfect Son, allowing him to die for us, and allowing us to be given his righteousness in exchange.
That Friday long ago was terrible, and painful, and torturous, and agonizing for the One who carried our sorrows, who was smitten by God, who was pierced for our transgressions, and who was crushed for our iniquities. Yet for those of us who have been healed by his wounds, it was and continues to be a day of eternal and unspeakable goodness and grace. And amazingly, even for Jesus, Hebrews 12:2 tells us that it was “for the joy set before him” that Jesus endured that cross – the joy of knowing his death was our life, his sacrifice was our salvation, and that the good work that God was starting that Friday, would be carried to its glorious conclusion at the empty tomb of Easter Sunday.
How can you use this day of Holy Week to truly reflect on the magnitude of your sin that required Jesus to go to the cross?
How can you use this day of Holy Week to then reflect on the utter goodness of God’s grace that he would provide pardon for sin at the expense of Himself?