Beckett: Good Friday?

Luke 23:46, Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!” And having said this He breathed His last.

Why in the world is today called “Good Friday”? As a kid, I thought it was a good Friday because I got the day off from school. Any day you get off from school is a good day, after all. O, how ignorant I was in my youth. When I came to the faith, it wasn’t long before I learnt that it’s called Good Friday because it’s the Friday when we recall the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (not the exact Friday, but He did die on a Friday). Then I wondered, “How the heck does the crucifixion of our Lord and Saviour make this a good Friday? If anything, it should be called Bad Friday! Or Guilty Friday!”

Good Friday is the most bittersweet of days. It is bitter because it is our sins that put the Son of God on the cross. It is sweet because the Son of God willingly chose to sacrifice His life to pay the price for our sins. That, I believe, is why we call it Good Friday. We should feel guilty that our sins put God’s only Son on the cross, but that guilt is forgiven by His death on the cross. What an amazing, merciful, gracious, good thing! Jesus died the death we deserve—death and the descent into Hell. Yet He chose to save us from our just fate.

On Timothy Keller’s Twitter page, he said, “Justice is to give all human beings their due as creations of God.” He’s totally right, but he forgot to mention God’s grace. So, I responded, “Which is condemnation. Instead, God saw it just to give us mercy.” That is why today is called Good Friday, because when we deserve condemnation, God chose to have mercy on us and chose to die for our sins—to take our condemnation upon Himself on the cross and to give us His righteousness in return.

That is grace. Yet even with what Christ has done for us on the cross, grace is a hard concept for us to understand. Imagine your worst criminal. Imagine a single person who has murdered people, raped people; lied to everyone, even his own family; was greedy and only used money for selfish gain, and many other things. His guilt is obvious. So, the law puts him on trial and sentences him to death. It is, after all, what he deserves. Now, imagine the President or King of this man’s country steps forward and says, “With all the authority that has been invested in me, I pardon this man’s crimes. Let him go free. However, I am not ignorant of the seriousness of his crimes. The price for his crimes still needs to be paid for. Therefore, I offer myself up as the substitute. When I die for his crimes, they are to be remembered no longer, and he can live a life free of his crimes.” And let’s suppose the government in this parable agrees with his offer and he dies for this man’s crimes, and now that the man is pardoned, he lives a completely new life, restored by his king’s reconciliation. That is grace. Grace takes what we deserve and gives us what we do not deserve.

That is what Jesus has done for us this Good Friday. We are all guilty of many sins—some murder, some rape, some thievery, all all liars, all have been greedy and selfish, all have been lustful, all have committed idolatry, and so on. Our guilt is obvious. Under God’s Law, we are put on trial and sentenced to condemnation. It is what we deserve. But Christ the King stepped forward and said, “With all the authority God My Father has invested in Me, I pardon man’s sins. Let them go free. However, I am not ignorant of the seriousness of their sins. The price for their sins still need to be paid for. Therefore, I offer Myself up as the substitute. When I die for their sins, they are to be remembered no longer, and they can live a life free of their sins. This is the promise for all who believe in Me.” Now pardoned, all who believe this live a completely new life, restored by our King’s reconciliation. This new life does not mean to be a good person (for no one is good), but to live a life under the guiding care of our Lord and Saviour, even when this life brings its inevitable troubles.

Today is a terrible day that the ransom for our sins cost the blood of Jesus Christ, but it is a good day because He freely chose to die the death we deserve and to set us free from sin’s captivity.

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