I have a son, and I would never consider sacrificing him to save my friends, let alone my enemies. Yet, that’s what God did with His only Son [Romans 5:6-11]. Any discussion about Good Friday from a Christian perspective must acknowledge this fact. God the Father is the perfect parent, and He loves His Son infinitely more than I or any of us could ever love our children. He created us in His image and likeness, so if we have emotions, so does He. A casual read through the Prophets in the Old Testament reveals a God who isn’t afraid to show emotion. Therefore, at the very least, we can surmise that it was dreadful for the Father to watch His beloved Son hang start naked on a cross as His life slowly ebbed away.
It’s also worth considering that Jesus’s fate didn’t befall Him because He was guilty of a crime. He was perfect and sinless. However, what I find most incredible as Jesus went through the unimaginable pain of the cross, is that He had the power to stop it at any time, yet He didn’t. I once had a friend tell me I take Christianity too seriously. I’m reminded by Good Friday that God took me very seriously, and I can’t belittle His sacrifice. The writer of the Hebrews epistle warns that if we trivialise the cross and minimise the price Jesus paid to reconcile us to God, there will be no hiding place for us on the day of Judgement [Hebrews 10:26-29]. As a rule of thumb, we should always take seriously anything God takes seriously.
In addition to taking the cross seriously, Good Friday also reminds us of the gravity of sin. From the beginning, God was unequivocal that the penalty for disobeying Him was death [Genesis 2:16-17]. That’s a refrain repeated throughout Scripture [Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Ezekiel 18:20]. What amazes me about God’s integrity is that even though He’s the Law-giver, and no one can question Him, He never circumvents His law. That’s one of the reasons He’s righteous. He exalts His word and His name over all else [Psalm 138:2]. So, when He decreed that the penalty for sin is death [Romans 6:23], He had to do something extraordinary to save us all from the consequences of our sins. So, it’s an incredibly profound thing that Jesus died for our sins because if He didn’t, we would have had to die for them and spend eternity in the lake of fire [Revelation 20:11-15].
Having established the gravity of sin and the cross, we must look inwards and examine how seriously we take them. Are you appalled by sin, yours or others, or do you trivialise sin? Does your life reflect your gratitude for Jesus’s sacrifice, or do you treat what He went through as a fable with a happy ending that has no direct consequence for you? Ultimately, the degree to which we treat our lives as ours reflects how much we understand and value the price Jesus paid on the cross to make us right with His Father [1 Corinthians 6:19-20]. Salvation is a free gift to us, but the Godhead paid an awful price for us to have it. How would you feel if you got a priceless gift for someone who turned around and trivialised it? How do you think God the Father feels about those who disparage His Son’s sacrifice?
Recalling the events of the first Good Friday should compel us to examine where we tolerate sin in our lives. Such introspection will reveal the wretchedness of our sins and the punishment we rightly deserve for them from a just God. Knowing this invariably brings us to a place of repentance and a resolve to make things right with God, whatever the cost. However, the cross is also good news because there was a trade at Calvary. Jesus took our sins and the punishment for our sins upon Himself and gave us His righteousness in exchange [2 Corinthians 5:21]. Based on that transaction, anyone who accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour can be right with God. Sin separates the sinner from God [Isaiah 59:2]. Therefore, when Jesus became sin on our behalf, His Father had to turn His face away from His beloved Son. That’s why Jesus felt forsaken, in addition to the excruciating physical pain He was experiencing [Matthew 27:46]. We never have to encounter that God-forsakenness if we accept and receive by faith what Jesus has done for us [Romans 10:5-11].
I’ve stressed the seriousness of the cross because it’s a historical event that happened in time and space, and it demands a response from each of us. The Bible presents a proposition that begins with the God who created the heavens and the earth and all the creatures that inhabit them, including human beings [Genesis 1 & 2]. Having made human beings in His image and likeness, we all rebelled against Him [Romans 3:23], and death is the punishment for that rebellion [Romans 6:23]. Yet, God didn’t leave us to die for our sins because of His immeasurable love for us [John 3:16]. Instead, He sent His Son to die for our sins [1 John 2:2] and restore our relationship with Him [Ephesians 2:1-10]. That’s why Jesus came to earth [Matthew 1:18-21]. We can examine this proposition rationally and its historical evidence if we wish, but ultimately, each person must decide if it’s true.
If what the Bible says is true, will you accept Jesus’s offer to save you from your sins? The penalty for sin is death, so either Jesus pays the price for your sins, or you will have to pay it someday.