By Jane Lewis--
Today is Good Friday. “GOOD” Friday. On this day, as we remember and reflect on Jesus’s excruciating suffering and death, it seems counterintuitive to call it “good.” And yet it’s what Jesus accomplished for us through His suffering and dying on the cross that made it good. Jesus, the very Son of God, lived a perfect life here on earth and substituted Himself to pay for our sins, so that when we repent and accept Him, we can be restored to a full relationship with God and spend eternity with Him. And that is very good. It reminds me of Genesis when God created humans and said, “It is very good.” Yet this very good creation came at an enormous cost to the Creator.
I grew up in a small midwestern town with small-town values. Not that everyone lived those values, but as a young girl it seemed like most of them did. I remember fondly having the week before Easter as our spring break. I especially remember Good Friday. All of the businesses, including banks and grocery stores, shut down at noon, and there was very little activity anywhere. You would see very few if any cars driving on the roads. I remember the quiet, the reverence. I’m sure not everyone was a Jesus follower inwardly, and many were not outwardly, yet that observance was practiced. I remember one Good Friday when I was with a friend and, even though we were outside, we would whisper. I loved the quiet of those hours. They seemed holy. Perhaps it didn’t happen all over the nation, but it did in my part of the world. And I miss it.
Almost every year since the movie The Passion of the Christ came out, I watch it. Not because I enjoy watching it—in fact, it’s hard to watch—but there’s something inside of me that feels it’s important to acknowledge what it might have been like for Jesus to take the sins of the world upon Himself. I know it’s just a movie and the reality of what Jesus went through was so much worse, but I want the cost to our God to forgive our sins and reconcile us to Himself to sink in deeper, and, for me, watching that movie contributes to the process. It’s too easy for me to go on in my life and take for granted, to lose sight of, the cost. And I don’t want it to be easy. I want it to be realized.
Many have questioned as to why God did what He did. Did Jesus really have to suffer and die for us? Wasn’t there another way? After all, God is God. Couldn’t He have just said we were forgiven and then let it be so? The answer, as many of you know, is “No.” He could not do that without violating part of who He is. Yes, He is loving and merciful, but He is also holy and just. His desire to forgive us so that we could be restored and in full relationship with Him, could not negate His justice. So God, in His amazing love for us and desire to be in relationship with us, did what only He could do. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Why did Good Friday have to happen? Because God loves us. We are a creation that continues to fall short of who we were created to be, we sin. And in order to be reconciled to a holy and just God, that sin needs to be paid for. The penalty is death and separation from God. On our own, because we are all imperfect, we can never pay the price and still be in relationship with God. We can never save ourselves. We need our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Our perfect loving, righteous, just God, the Creator of the universe and of each one of us, gave Himself up to die on the cross to pay the price for our sins. Jesus satisfied the justice that needed to take place, and He made it possible for all who would receive Him, to be in a relationship with Him forever. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
Yes, when God created that which was “very good,” it did come at an enormous cost to Himself—but it did not come as a surprise to Him. God knew beforehand what it would cost, and in His amazing love for us, He felt it was worth it! He felt you were worth it. May this Good Friday, and Easter morning, remind you of how very much you are loved by the very God who created you. Reflect on what Good Friday represents, and then be ready on Sunday to rejoice and be glad as we proclaim, “He Has Risen! He is Risen Indeed!" And THAT is very good!
Please know that if you are going through a crisis or difficult time, you do not need to go through it alone. We have Stephen Ministers who have been trained to meet one-on-one and would consider it a privilege to walk alongside you through this time. Call the church or email and someone will contact you.