But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.—Isaiah 53:5
The day we call Good Friday was not a good day for Jesus. Just one week earlier, He had made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem as the crowds cheered, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” But the next few days ushered in a drastic turning of the tide: His betrayal, His arrest, His suffering at the hands of those who hated Him, and His death on a cross. We commemorate His death each Good Friday, a day that reminds us how Jesus’ bad day was for our good.
Like most of us, He did not want to die. He pleaded with the Father to find another way. But He yielded to the Father’s perfect will.
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”—Mark 14:36
No one can fully explain what His suffering and death cost Him. We can only imagine what our finite minds can comprehend. Maybe you’ve felt the weight of your sinful choices before. Maybe you’ve known excruciating physical pain. Maybe you’ve felt completely alone. I have. Check, check and check.
But try to imagine how it felt to bear the weight of the world’s sins, as Jesus did, even though He Himself was without sin. Try to imagine your skin flayed, your body beaten beyond recognition, leaving you weakened by blood loss and shock while you struggle to breathe. And as you breathe, the raw flesh on your back rises and falls against the rough wooden beam holding you up. And imagine suffering in this way as the one to whom you are closest turns away from you.
And about the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli lama sabachthani?,” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”—Matthew 27:26
And then you die, but not for your own good. You do it out of love for the sake of those who caused your suffering.
We love because He first loved us.—1 John 4:19
Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. As we commemorate Good Friday, let us do it with heavy hearts. Let us confront the sin within us that compelled Him to suffer and die on our behalf. Just as Jesus died, so must we. We must die to our sin, to our preferences, our entitlement, our worldliness and our self-centeredness.
Good Friday reminds us of death, the death that brought us life. It reminds us how Jesus took something so very bad and made it into something so very good. He makes all things new.
Live today in light of His death. But experience the peace His punishment brings us. Experience His healing in the deepest, darkest recesses of your heart. Let today be a good Friday indeed.