Well, it is once again the Passion or Holy Week during which many will celebrate “Good Friday”. You know, the Easter equivalent of Christmas Eve. Though to the casual observer “good” may seem a bit odd when describing the brutal execution of the person worshipped by Christians throughout the globe, I believe most acknowledge why we dare refer to it as “good”. It is on this day that Jesus accomplished for us the forgiveness of sin, the removal of our guilt, and secured a place for us in the Father’s presence in heaven. That truth alone makes this day eternally and unmistakably “good”. It is a simple truth, but we must never allow the simplicity of it to be quickly brushed aside or allow ourselves to grow callous to the enormity of this day through familiarity.
The “good” of Good Friday is so much more than simply “going to heaven”. The significance of this day may be reduced down to “going to heaven” but a panoramic view of the death of Jesus on the cross takes in so much more. The event which transpired on this day has spiritual and social ramifications both eternal and temporal. The “good” in Good Friday is the good we as a race have always needed since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, but no more so than we need that good today. To understand the fullness of the “good” we much look back upon the life and ministry Jesus while He was alive.
Jesus was without question, a good man whose life was filled with goodness. His goodness was loving, gracious, merciful, and kind. People came from all over to experience and be touched by His goodness. The story of His life is well-described in Mark 10:45 where it is said that He “came not to be served, but to serve”. It is critical, though, that we do not label Jesus as just a humanitarian who came to illustrate for wayward humanity what love looked like. The actions of Jesus were not “random acts of kindness” done out of pity for those less fortunate or to empower the powerless. The miraculous and loving actions of Jesus were powerfully symbolic images of the work Jesus would accomplish on the cross.
The gospel writers reveal in dramatic fashion the spiritual significance of what Jesus would accomplish as they record the miracles wrought by Jesus. During His life He…
*healed a leper (Mark 1:40-45)
*restored a paralytic (Mark 2:1-11)
*freed the demoniac from his bondage (Mark 5:1-13)
*healed the woman with continuous flow of blood (Mark 5:25-34)
*brought a dead girl back to life (Mark 5:35-42)
*gave sight to a blind man (Mark 10:46-52)
In each instance, Jesus was addressing the foundational spiritual issues of fallen humanity, that is, our separation from our Creator. He cleansed the unclean, He gave life to the dead, He gave sight to the blind, He freed the captive, and gave strength to the impotent. All of these maladies and conditions are graphic pictures of what sin brought to mankind. The miracles of Jesus highlight our utterly depraved condition as well as our inability to do anything about it.
It is also imperative for us to observe that Jesus didn’t heal everyone, restore everyone, or touch everyone who would benefit from His miracles and power. In fact, on a global scale, He touched very few. His miracles were to reveal who He was, His intimate love for sinners, and the purpose of His mission to address the separation sin has caused between the Creator and His creation.
Beyond the miraculous, the mission of Jesus is poignantly pictured in His interactions with the myriad of people He mingled with. During His life He lovingly and mercifully engaged a…
*Jewish Tax Collector (Mark 2:14)
*Synagogue official (Mark 5:21-43)
*Gentile woman (Mark 7:24-30)
*Children (Mark 10:13-16)
*Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13)
Jesus gave significance to the socially insignificant. He crossed the social lines of gender and race. He touched the socially untouchable and loved the socially unlovable. While a Jew by birth, heritage, and covenant faithfulness, Jesus was not constrained nor compelled by nationalism. He called the Jewish traitor to be a disciple and humbly served the needs of a Roman Centurion. The hatred the Jews had for the Romans cannot be overestimated. Racism, nationalism, and imperialistic arrogance were alive and thriving well before North America was settled by immigrants from Europe.
Historically, the fall broke the relationship with our Creator and broke our relationship with ourselves (Genesis 3). Jesus came to restore that which was broken (Romans 8 and 12) between both God and His creation as well as what separates and divides us as people. It is here that we begin to see the full spectrum of what makes Good Friday, “good”.
The future hope we have from the work of Jesus on the cross is this: God is creating a new people and a new kingdom comprised of all tribes, nations, and people (Revelation 1, 5, and 22) created through the work of Jesus, the Savior (Revelation 1:4-8); free from all forms of oppression and racism, free from everything and everyone which enslaves and holds us in bondage. It is to be a kingdom in which righteousness dwells (2nd Peter 3:13). While we will never fully experience this in the here and now, this is the secure hope of the future. The full realization of all we hope for, all we crave in this life is found exclusively in the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is this hope and this hope alone which enables us to endure difficult and seemingly overwhelming times and events. It is the knowledge and conviction of this certainty that compels us to be diligent in regard to these very things in this life. Following Jesus calls us and empowers us to pursue His purposes now in the faith and hope of what Good Friday brings.
Come to Jesus and hold fast to Him. His promise is sure.