What’s So Good About Good Friday?!
[ Extracted and edited from D2Y2 Magazine – Volume 2 Issue 7, May 1999 ]
Every year, Christians everywhere celebrate Easter. Traditionally held on the first Sunday of April, the event celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Saviour of Mankind, from the dead. And what a reason that is – to celebrate the empty tomb!
It is the second greatest Christian symbol, if not equal to the Cross. There wouldn’t be an Easter if there wasn’t a Good Friday. If Easter is a celebration of Life, Good Friday is a celebration of death. Celebration of death? It just doesn’t sound right. What is there to celebrate about death? What’s so good about Good Friday?
No person in his or her right mind would ever affiliate the word ‘death’ with the word ‘good’. Not ‘normal’ people, in ‘normal’ circumstances. But there was nothing ‘normal’ with Good Friday, on the Cross hung the Son of the Living God who was punished not for His wrong but for the wrong of mankind. Not just for the wrong done by His people in His time but for all people for all times.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us … For if by one man’s (Adam’s) offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ… For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.” Romans 5:8, 17; 6:10
No person in his or her right mind would ever affiliate the word ‘death’ with the word ‘good’.
Many people who may understand the reason behind Good Friday, still struggle to personally apply its truth to their own lives today. Good Friday may be good but how is it good FOR ME? This article is written to help us find a personal understanding of what Jesus did for you and for me on the Cross that fateful Friday.
If you please, as you read on, consider this a devotional checklist for your heart. My prayer is that you will find a renewed love and deeper appreciation for our Saviour and Lord this Easter season.
From the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3)
to the Garden of Calvary (John 19:41)
“.. The serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die”. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?”. So he said, “I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” … Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and l ate.” … The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” … To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow…” Then to Adam He said, “…Cursed is the ground for your sake;…”… therefore the Lord sent him out of the garden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way to the tree of life.”
Genesis 3: 1 – 24
I read in the newspaper, dated 3rd March 1999, of a ‘wise’ man’s (Dada Jashan P. Vaswani, a person recognised globally for his charity work and efforts to promote world peace) philosophy and I quote, “We call God by many names and the paths to Him are many but we are all children of the one God. Why should we quarrel about the paths that we choose? You move on the one that suits you and I on the one that suits me. We will meet when we meet God.”
But how bothered are we with what’s right or wrong?
My thoughts on choosing the path that ‘suits us’ – isn‘t that what got us in this mess (feel free to be specific) in the first place?! Everybody wants it done their way for their comfort and though this way may be convenient, it isn’t necessarily correct. But how bothered are we with what’s right or wrong? As long as we feel good about it?
Ever since the time of Adam until now man has always desired independence. “Let me do what l want, why l want, how l want, when I want! It’s my life! I don’t want anyone telling me what or how to run my life! I know what’s best for me.” What we often forget is that this desire and attitude was found first in Lucifer (now better known as Satan) when he sought to dethrone and replace the God of Heaven, our Creator and Father with himself.
This was the first sin. Interestingly, it still remains today as chief among all sins. Why do I say that? Simply that, without much deep thought, one will realise that at the centre of every sin committed is the throne where the “I” is crowned as the true king of our lives.
This is where the mess begins, the mess of wrong priorities, and it all started with a wrong choice.
We had succeeded, even if it was just for a moment, to dethrone God and replace Him with what pleases us. As an imaginative gesture, we have raised our clenched fist to God in protest for our freedom. More than the forbidden fruit of the tree, Adam and Eve were tempted with the opportunity to “be like God”.
Jesus paid the price beginning at the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14: 36) all the way to the Garden of Calvary. For our cry, “Don’t tell Me what to do!”. He cried, “Not My will but Yours be done”. For our crown of sinful independence, He had to wear the crown of thorns, pressed firmly into His brow. For our raised and clenched fist of rebellion, His hands were nailed.
If we succumb to follow this desire for independence, it is an almost definite and all too common decision to choose “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” rather than “the tree of life”. In today’s terms, power rather than meekness. Popularity rather than service. Prosperity rather than purpose. Pride rather than humility. This is where the mess begins, the mess of wrong priorities, and it all started with a wrong choice.
Matthew 27:16 – 22 : “…Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?”… the chief priest and elders persuaded the multitudes … They said, “Barabbas!” Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!”
For all that He had done – healed the sick, cast out demons, forgave the outcasts – you would have thought that He would at least be the better choice over a notorious criminal to be released.
Instead, the people chose a murderer rather than the Giver of life. A thief rather than a Friend. A doer of evil rather than a Doer of good. They shouted more than once that He be crucified. How do you think Jesus must have felt? How do you think God feels when we reject Him? For our sin of rejecting God, Jesus was rejected.
Our eyes may have been “opened” after tasting the fruit – but we don’t like what we see – nakedness. We replace God’s covering with the “fig leaves” of this life.
There was no one there that day to defend Him. All His disciples had deserted Him. He stood alone. He was betrayed once by His own disciple, Judas lscariot. Now again by the people whom He came to deliver, but all this was done so that Scripture might be fulfilled.
Have you ever felt betrayed? Wrongly accused? Unfairly left out, brushed aside or neglected? Have people forgotten the good that you’ve done and chose another who was less worthy to be promoted or to replace you? Do you feel completely alone? He knows exactly how you feel and He has made a way for you to find strength in Him.
Our eyes may have been “opened” after tasting the fruit, but we don’t like what we see – nakedness. In truth, we have become blinded to the plan and purposes that God had laid out for our good. Blind enough to see that we know better than God what is truly best for our lives.
We replace God’s covering with the “fig leaves” of this life. They aren’t the best and there’s not a lot they can cover. Especially when we are hit by the winds and storms of life. But they’ll have to do till we find something better.
We run looking everywhere for answers but we can find none that truly satisfies. Everything is so temporary. Then we get tired of running and we think the best way is to hide. We are ashamed of our lack of direction and success. We feel like a failure. We go into seclusion. We throw in the towel, waste our lives away and miss our destiny. We may have started well but we lost the will to finish the race.
All we need to do is surrender.
For the sin of covering our nakedness (choosing our own covering above the covering God had for us), His nakedness was uncovered. His garments and tunic were taken from Him and divided among the soldiers (John 19:23 & 24). For our sin of running and seeking answers from everywhere and from everyone else except God, both his feet were nailed to the Cross. For hiding our shame, He was humiliated in public (Mark 15:29 : And those who passed by blasphemed Him, shaking their heads and saying … ).
One of the oldest defense known to man is to pass the blame. It is as old as from Adam. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. Many of us are still guilty of this wrong. But do you know that the blame fell on Christ and it stopped there for “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth … as a sheep before its shearers is silent …” (Isaiah 53:7)
Do you also remember that Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34)? It was Adam’s sin that drove him out of the garden of Eden. It was our sin that sent Jesus to the Cross. But His Cry for forgiveness opened the way for us to return. We separated ourselves from God by our sin and Christ was punished with the greatest of all punishments – to be separated from God. At the Cross, the Father turned His face away from His only begotten Son to which the Son cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46)
And because of disobedience, God pronounced a curse on the woman and the man whom He had so wonderfully created, but the curse fell on Jesus. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”, that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3: 13 & 14)
So the tree of life in the Garden of Eden, that fallen man never had access to, is now readily available because of what Jesus did for us on the tree in the garden of Calvary. Therefore, whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life! “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19 )
As we consider what God has done for us through His Son, let us draw nearer to Him than ever before. He did it all because we couldn’t. He did it all so that we could once again walk with Him in the garden, in the cool of the day.
There was nothing we could do to atone for our sins. No amount of sacrifice or good works can suffice. We can’t work for our forgiveness. We don’t have to. He has done it all for you and for me.
All we need to do is surrender. Stop struggling with God. Unclench that fist. Remove your crown. Stop running and start coming out from your hiding. Do not point the finger. Stop passing the blame. Be still and know that He is God!
Reject His discipline no longer but be reconciled to Him. Christ has taken it all for us. He has kept His part of the promise. He came at the appointed time as promised. He is here again knocking at the door of your heart. Can you hear His voice calling, “_______ (write your name), where are you?”
Come back to the garden. He is calling you! Now, isn’t Good Friday good?!
Further Meditation: Isaiah 53
Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground. He has no form of comeliness; And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, everyone, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgement, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off out of the land of the living; For the transgression of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked – but with the rich in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When you make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand. He shall see of the labour of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
D2Y2, which stands for Don’t Despise Your Youth, was an official Asian Youth Ambassador (AYA) magazine birthed out in the late 90s. The printed materials communicated dynamic and effective encouragement to and from the Church, with special emphasis on the knowledge and experiences of our Christian youths, which we believe the content is still relevant and applicable in this current generation.