What’s so good about the best man who ever lived, hanging limp and lifeless from a cruel cross? Can you find anything good about a truly good person, who never did anything bad to anyone, taunted and mocked by a heartless and uncaring mob?
But wait a minute; to borrow a phrase that’s used by some pastors: “It’s only Friday, Sunday’s a comin’.”
Yes, but that Friday was so awful! Judas betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver, with a kiss. Peter denied him three times. All his disciples fled in fear leaving Him to die alone, hanging nearly necked in sight of a jeering crowd who ridiculed him: “Look, He saved others and He can’t even save himself. Come down from that cross and we will believe you are the Messiah.”
Worse yet, as He took the place of Barabbas, for the first time, He felt forsaken and desolate. “Why have you forsaken me,” He cried. The faith of His followers, who hoped he was the Promised One, was shattered. How could He be who he claimed and come to such a tragic end? Surely the band of believers, the early church, would come to an inglorious end. But it didn’t. Why?
Again, it’s only Friday, Sunday is coming. The dawning of Easter Sunday would dispel the darkness of doubt. When the stone was rolled away, the disciples could look into the tomb and see that it’s not a prison but a passage to eternal life. The Risen One promised: “Because I live you shall live also.” That promise makes all the difference, to those who turn to him in repentance and faith.
Sunday has come. In its light we can see that on a day when man was at his worst, God was at his best, taking our sins away and opening wide the door of forgiveness for all to enter. Look into that empty tomb and understand, you can’t gain heaven by your good deeds and you can’t lose it by your bad deeds. You can only loose by refusing to enter in through the open door of faith and trust.
On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” The work he came to do revealing God to man and redeeming man to God has been completed. There is nothing more to do but trusting in His finished work. In the words of that classic hymn: “Once and for all O brother believe it… come to the cross your burdens will fall, Christ has redeemed us once for all.” That’s what puts the good in Good Friday.
Marshall Hoffman, a retired minister and chaplain, is on a mission to motivate believers to love God more and serve him better.