I’ve often imagined what it would have been like to be there, to witness with my own eyes the very first Good Friday. The day that Jesus died.
Would I be among the scoffers?
Would my voice be heard among those shouting, “Crucify Him!”?
Would I have been one casting lots for His garments?
Would I be one of the weeping women at His feet, watching in horror as He breathed His last?
This Jesus who had come with a message of love and grace, beaten beyond recognition.
This Jesus who had dined with sinners, murdered as if He were one.
This Jesus who had fed the thousands when they were hungry, starved in His final hours of suffering.
This Jesus who had forgiven the harlot, shamed in nakedness on a cruel cross.
This Jesus who had spoken words of life, had His own taken from Him.
Or did He give it up?
Just moments before His betrayal by one of His own, crying out to God in the garden, blood seeping out of His pores as He agonized over what was to befall Him, these words flowed through His divine lips and pierced the darkness:
“Not my will, but yours be done.”
He, who knew no sin, became sin. He chose. He gave. He suffered. He died.
And we live.
Death now swallowed up in victory, oh where is your sting? This is the power of the cross. Jesus Christ became sin for us. He took our place. He bore God’s wrath. And now, you and I stand forgiven at the cross.
This is why it was a good Friday. This is why it remains a good Friday. Jesus in my place—the Gospel, the Good News. He went to the cross so we wouldn’t have to. He paid the price with His own life, so that we could know grace. He bled, suffered, and died so that we could live.
And with His final words, sin and death were defeated. Forever. “It is finished.”
This is Good Friday. The overwhelming realization that I deserved death, but was spared it. You deserved that punishment, but you were rescued. The nails that pierced His hands and feet were pounded into His flesh by our sinful hands. But, He pardoned us before the Father. He said, “I will take their place.” This is Good Friday. Celebrate His death today, because it brought you life. Celebrate today, because it’s not the end of the story. Celebrate today, because Sunday is coming.