“It is finished…” - John 19:30
Good always seems like the wrong word to use on the day we reflect on Jesus being executed in the most barbaric, torturous, and painful fashion in human history. An innocent man was brutally murdered by religious leaders who simply didn’t want to worship Him. The legal officials found no fault in Him. He wasn’t guilty. The charges were fabricated. He was executed in the manner of the most vile of criminals. His friends abandoned Him. He was humiliated and shamed. How could this be good?
The truth for us is that despite the gruesome nature of the events surrounding the cross, Jesus dying on the cross was very good. Scripture says these horrible things happened to Him not because of man’s deviousness, but at the will of the Father. The cross was the plan from the beginning. Jesus came to earth knowing this day would happen, knowing this day would be necessary.
As painful as it is to think about the way Jesus died for our sins, it’s so beautiful how even his last hours were spent bringing people into the Kingdom with Him, forgiving those who are killing Him, and making sure His family is cared for. One of my favorite elements to the Good Friday story is the Roman guard who testifies, “Surely this was the Son of God.” Jesus not only lived in such a way that billions of people now claim to be His followers, but he died in such a way that those killing Him had to acknowledge the reality of who He was.
The “Good” in Good Friday is simply that Jesus is so good. In the garden, as His flesh wrestled with the idea of the pain He would endure, He humbly chose submission to the greater good that would come from this sacrifice. Another “Good” is simply that Jesus didn’t have to let anybody kill Him. Dying and taking our punishment on the cross was His loving choice for those who believe in Him.
The reality of redeeming something as horrendous as the cross is something only Jesus could do. The ancient Romans would be puzzled by our use of the cross in jewelry and art. It is something they never would’ve considered for the possibility of being beautiful. It is astonishing that we could celebrate such a horrible thing. However, our lives demonstrate that same reality. Sinners, enemies of God who deserve death, somehow receive grace and mercy because God is compassionate and loving.
Our God is good. His plan was and is good. Jesus’ humility and love was and is good. Friday is good. Not because of the brutality of the cross, but because of the depths of love of our God who made a way for the vilest of sinners to have a way into the Kingdom of God. Death will turn to life. Light will overcome the darkness. God’s redemptive purposes allow something hard and terrible to be a part of something greater and good.
For those in Christ, we can be patient in affliction, we can persevere through suffering, we can endure trial and temptations, we can act as those who have a hope. God takes things that are seemingly really bad and turns them around for His glory and our good.
On Good Friday, let’s not be naive about the severity of the pain that Jesus absorbed on our behalf. Let’s meditate on the depths of the love it took to pay such a price for our salvation. Let’s honor and worship Him appropriately for taking our place on the cross. Let’s also consider the situations we are in that we would in no way describe as “Good,” and let us see those challenges in the light of Good Friday. Suffering, pain, obstacles, frustration, hopelessness, despair and darkness can all yield into what will later be described as “Good.”
That’s what God does, because HE IS GOOD.