Friday, April 18, 2014

Wonderful, Terrible Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. I always thought that was a strange name for this day, and the Lent devotional I've been doing for the past almost six weeks summed up my thoughts better than I could:

"Today is called Good Friday, which is not really good because "good" is too neutral a term. The events of Good Friday are the ultimate paradox--at once atrocious and wonderful, scandalous and beautiful, the worst kind of hate and the best kind of love. On this day we were convicted and pardoned, condemned and freed, cursed and blessed."

I love that summary of what this day is. It was the worst day imaginable; and though the followers of Jesus couldn't see it that day, it was the greatest act of love that had or would ever happen in all of eternity; it was the darkest day that had ever taken place, yet it would be followed by the brightest of bright days that would ever take place, three days later on Resurrection Sunday. Imagine what Jesus' brothers and sisters and Mary and Joseph and all of his beloved followers were thinking that day. Their world came crashing down in the worst possible way, and they had no idea that there truly was light at the end of this nightmare.

"To his disciples--those that had forsaken everything in order to follow Jesus--this day was anything but good. This man, in whom they had put all of their hopes, was hanging dead on a tree. This was the death of their faith, the crushing of all their hopes for a new kingdom, and the end of all they believed in. Or so it seemed...Easter Sunday lied in wait for them, but on Friday they couldn't see it. they couldn't see the defeat of death, the glory of the resurrection, or the advancement of God's kingdom. They couldn't see the whole story."

"God is a God of light: darkness cannot survive in his presence. We, who have dark hearts full of sin, should tremble at this fact. But Jesus, who was completely good, cloaked himself in the darkness of our sin and stood under the wrath of God for us. On the cross, he was destroyed and cut off from his Father. It was to have been our fate. On the first Good Friday, in the midst of our darkest hour, God did not cut us off. Jesus Christ, our true light, plunged himself into the darkness so that we might live in the light."

This is a concept I have a hard time with. It's not hard for me to believe, but hard for me to imagine and grasp the fullness of it; the enormity and the implications of it. To think about the fact that for one single sin, I deserve hell...for one sinful thought that crossed my mind for one instant, or one sinful word that leaves my lips; for a sinful attitude, or for one tiny white lie I tell. for the time I cheated on one answer on one test in high school, or for the gossip I shared in a moment of weakness and wanting to fit it. For losing patience and snapping at my girls yesterday. For one of these sins, I am guilty and deserving of hell, because God cannot look upon sin. He is too holy. To think that Jesus was able to come to this Earth and never, ever even think a sinful thought...and then to think about the fact that this perfect, sinless God-man took the weight of every single sin I have and ever will commit, plus the sins of billions of people who have and ever will live...this, this is a concept too great for me to fully grasp. Yet I believe. I have to believe. This is the hope we as Christians live by. That the God of the universe can look at us and love us because Christ took the sin, the darkness, thus clothing us in pure white, making it possible for the Father to look at us in love. THIS IS OUR HOPE. THIS IS OUR JOY.

And so we mourn the death of our Savior and the depth of our sin today on Good Friday. But we have hope, because Sunday is coming!

"Holy God, you have opened our ears to hear your Word and our lips to proclaim your truth; open our eyes this day to see in the cross the revelation of your love; through Jesus crucified, to whom with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, be honor and praise, now and forever. Amen."

Italics are from the Lent devotional online at, Day 39.

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