Usually, I try and start these posts with some kind of relating story or explanation of a bible verse we are going to look at. Sometimes a personal story that people can connect to helps them to understand the message that is being given. But today is Good Friday, the day we look at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Today, I have no personal story of how I can relate to the death of Jesus Christ. Sure, in a metaphorical sense and a conquering of the fleshly desire sense, I have plenty of those and am working through a few others. But as for experiencing the death and pain, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I have no comprehension of the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice. Looking at Good Friday, that’s the point.
“Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
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.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”
– Isaiah 53:4-6, NIV
I will never be able to fully comprehend the pain and suffering that Christ endured on the cross. Yet that is precisely the point. I am not supposed to understand fully. Christ, taking my punishment on my behalf, took what was rightfully mine so that I would not have to carry it. After all, I don’t have the ability to do so. From His sacrifice, though, I put to death my flesh and am crucified with Christ, not to earn His love, but in response to it.
I have always struggled with calling it “Good Friday.” This is the day we remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross. He did not fake the pain or put on a show, it was a legitimate torture and death. Beyond the physical, he bore the weight of sins and condemnation on Himself. This is the part I struggle with the most. Jesus did not die for His own sins. Jesus was perfect, the only man without sin and fully God in His being. That was not His pain, His suffering, or His affliction. He did not deserve to be pierced, crushed, or afflicted. All of that belonged to me.
It was my sins that put Christ on the cross and through the grace of God I did not get what I deserve. Yet, for those following Christ, the idea of someone “getting what they deserve” must be wholly abandoned as a way of thought. Even for our enemies, we are told to pray for them rather than seek to execute them for the simple fact that if God has sought that, we would all be summarily executed. But through Jesus Christ I do not receive the punishment I am due. Christ took the punishment I could not possibly pay to secure my home in eternity with Him.
Crucified with Christ
So where are we in the crucifixion? At first, we were a part of the crowd that was screaming “Crucify Him!” knowing that He had come to disrupt our very way of life. Then we came to the realization that way of life Christ came to disrupt was the grasp of death on our lives. But the worst realization we could ever process is when we understand that Jesus went willingly. There is nothing I could do to spur Christ towards giving up His life. Through beholding Jesus Christ on the cross, we are able to see the decaying effect the pursuit of our flesh has on us. In that moment, we can choose to put that nature to death.
For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!
– Galatians 2:19-21
Beholding Christ on the cross, we leave the ways of our flesh behind. However much our flesh may crave its old way of life, we choose to put it to death and crucify our sins. We do not chase holiness to earn the gift we have received. We chase holiness as a response to the love of Christ. On this Good Friday, the hold of sin and death on our lives was released through the power, love, and grace from Jesus Christ, crucified. We are free. This is the goodness of Good Friday.