Victoria Park Christian Centre
Suite 1, 342 Albany Highway, Victoria Park 6100, Western Australia
Good Friday??? How can it be good? What possesses believers to come together every year and celebrate the brutal slaying of Jesus Christ at the hands of an angry mob? What happened to Jesus was not good but a great good came out of it.
Looking at the cross, it was clear that a crime had been committed and crime brings with it a penalty. We also know that the penalty was capital punishment – the death penalty. So what was the crime that deserved this brutal death sentence?
Let’s start by looking at the charges levied on Jesus. Well, first there was a charge from the religious leaders called the Sanhedrin. The charge was blasphemy:
Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy!” Matthew 26:65
Blasphemy was one of the many offenses of the Torah which merits the death penalty. These crimes range from murder down to simply breaking the Sabbath laws. And, according to the religious leaders Jesus had broken the Sabbath laws often. But also he was guilty of blasphemy (which is insulting or showing contempt for God) by claiming to be the Messiah with equal status to God. For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God (John 5:18).
However, under Roman occupation the Jews had no authority to execute anyone. So they brought Jesus to Pilate, the Roman Governor. Pilate was not interested in a charge of blasphemy, seeing it as a Jewish matter, and Jesus was given another charge. That was also a capital offence: high treason. Calling Himself a King in opposition to Caesar was something Pilate could not overlook:
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered. John 19:15
So both Jew and Gentile brought charges against Jesus and condemned Him to death.
However, there was a third party involved in the charges that we cannot overlook. Paul tells us that God had brought a charge against “sin in the flesh.” That means sinful humans, and that Jesus came to be an offering for that sin.
For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh… Romans 8:3-4
Earlier Paul had explained that capital punishment is the penalty for sin:
For the wages of sin is death… Romans 6:23
Adam, as the image of God, at the very beginning of scripture was offered two options: glorious obedience to God which would lead to life in His presence, or disobedience which would lead to death. He distrusted God’s perfect laws and disobeyed. This incurred the death sentence and he passed it on to all humanity as we are all Adam’s descendants:
…through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men… Romans 5:12
Jesus as the image of the invisible God took on flesh and became a man. Although He was sinless He chose to become sin for us:
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us …” 2 Corinthians 5:21
This is what God wanted. Jesus trusted God’s will and became obedient and accepted the charge:
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:8
Adam’s offence resulted in condemnation and death for all but Jesus’ compliance to the will of God offered pardon and life to all.
Consequently, just as one offense resulted in condemnation for everyone, so one act of righteousness results in justification and life for everyone. Romans 5:18
Them’s the charges! All three of them and Jesus cheerfully and heartily consented to them all. The charges from the Jewish leaders and the Romans Jesus accepted with an unresentful heart. Who can forget the magnanimous prayer breathed by Jesus in the midst of excruciating pain:
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are
doing.” Luke 23:34
And it was a spirit of acquiescence to God’s charge and His absolute trust in the wisdom and goodness of God to make Him the lamb sacrifice for sin that caused Him to act just like an acquiescing lamb. He was silent before the shearers – the people into whose hands He had fallen.
He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he didn’t open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, as a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. Isaiah 53:7
Now we’ve looked at the three charges let’s examine the dying and the threes that resulted. This is the good that came out of this Friday from the bad.
First, there was reconciliation with God
For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself… 2 Corinthians 5:19
God was offering forgiveness of sin in Christ Jesus. You see, as Jesus became sin when He was nailed to the cross, the charges of “sin in the flesh” which were on Him were also nailed there.
God… forgave all our sins. He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:14
On the cross the charges of sin in the flesh which was against us died – extinguished by His blood!
Second, man was reconciled with man. The age old enmity between Jew and Gentile which acted like a wall between them was broken down:
He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. Ephesians 2:14
On the cross the hostility between nations died!
Third, there was reconciliation with ourselves. With the charges against humanity came the guilt of sin. Sin troubles the conscience and no amount of repentance can ever change or lessen that. Sin also shows us some weakness that is in us which we know will reappear should the same circumstances recur – we see the power of sin over us. When Jesus died as the unblemished sacrifice for the sins of the world He cleared our consciences:
the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death… Hebrews 9:14
And, we can be born again as a new creation with the old creation and its weaknesses gone:
…the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
On the cross guilt and the power of sin over us died.
Here’s another three. One, on the cross Jesus beat death which Adam by his wrong choices brought in. Two, in the resurrection he took victory over death. Three, in His second coming He will remove it altogether. You can read about it in 1 Corinthians 15:22-23. This is the greatest hope for a world full of sin that Jesus Christ is one day coming to finalise the victory He won over death on the cross.
Jesus as the sin bearer and sin offering offers back the choices that Adam lost. On Good Friday you have the invitation that Pilate offered the Jews: “Behold the man!” John 19:5.
If all you can see is pain and condemnation, then that would be because you are lost, condemned, and with broken relationships and a purpose in life that you will never recognise. Or do you see forgiveness and redemption flowing from Jesus’ veins? That He is making the way straight for us to live in love and obedience to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ? If yes, then you will understand why we call it Good Friday – it’s the day Jesus breathed His last breath on the cross and death died. HALLELUJAH!