Matt Corrick answers an important question which is relevant at any time of year but in particular now.
Why is Good Friday so good?
This was a question that I always pondered in my unconverted days. I was raised in a non-Christian family, almost completely unchurched, apart from my Christening-(I still don’t understand why I was Christened) in fact the majority of my church experience was what I understood church to be from the Simpsons.
That being said I went to a semi-Christian primary school and I heard the Easter narrative-not the Easter message but the narrative. I knew the key events of Easter: Palm Sunday: Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a Donkey, Thursday: Jesus had the last supper, prayed in a garden and was betrayed and arrested. Pilate was afraid of the Jews and had Jesus handed over to be crucified. Friday: Jesus was killed on the cross and was buried and Sunday: Jesus rose from the dead.
There was a big question I had: why?
Jesus was the Son of God so why did he die?
I remember the teacher in the assembly explaining Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane saying how He didn’t want to die but she didn’t explain why He did die.
It wasn’t until I met my friend Charlie that I really started to understand Good Friday. I was invited to church and after months of constant no’s I eventually conceded and turned up. I was instantly hooked and kept coming back.
I would hear the gospel message numerous times before it started making sense to me: Christ died for my sins. I had so offended God in such a way that for me to be forgiven Christ died in my place. The biblical basis for this is all over the scriptures but it is particularly clear in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
We see here of most importance that Jesus on the cross, died in the place of us for our sins. The ‘for’ meaning because of, he was dying as a substitute. You see we as individuals have all gone astray as Isaiah 53 describes, and have so behaved that our just sentence is death and Hell and yet on the cross, Christ bore my full penalty-bearing the wrath reserved for me and all those who would believe in Him.
However, my theology was yet unrefined and I still saw this as a plan B type of thing. This was utterly shattered one Good Friday service in Exmouth Chapel when I heard my friend Charlie’s mother reading from Isaiah 53:3-6
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Written 700 years before Christ and yet this details exactly how and why he would be killed. This proved to me that His death was planned in advance to atone for our sins.
That being said, I still had an out of place view of the cross in the sense I saw it as reactive-I had this view that God saw Adam sin and suddenly there was a plan - almost like the Father went: ‘oh no, quickly Jesus go die on a cross to save them.’
But this is not the case and I came to understand that as I read Ephesians 1: 3-10
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
We see here how those in Christ have been chosen to be redeemed and made holy. This is a work of God, and we see that this was decided before the foundation of the earth. It was no accident, or reactive action but this was a perfectly planned event from before the creation of the world.
Okay: we now have an understanding that Jesus died to save us from sin and also that this wasn’t some big solution to a problem that God didn’t foresee. But I still haven’t answered why it is good. Here are 5 reasons that I think Good Friday is extremely good.
1. It is the ultimate demonstration of God’s love. God shows His love for us by having Christ die for us (Romans 5:8). When I look at the cross, I cannot doubt God’s love for me, we can see God’s love forever proved in the cross.
2. My sin is completely paid for. We see that Christ became a curse on our behalf, where he bore the full punishment so that we can be forgiven (2 Corinthians 5:21, Galatians 3:13). This means that when I and all those in Christ appear before Him, there will be no wrath prepared for us but only rewards on account of the work of Christ at the cross.
3. The cross wasn’t the end. So significant is the line in 1 Corinthians 15:4-5 when it says ‘he raised from the dead according to the scriptures and was seen by Cephas, and then the 12 and then 500...’ we see here that He was raised. This means that God has accepted His sacrifice for Sin, it also proves that Jesus was not guilty of sin, but was the bearer of sin. This means we in Christ, can stand in full confidence of God’s forgiveness because He rose from the dead.
4. The cross is an invitation for all people to repent and believe. The way in which God has loved the world is by sending Jesus (John 3:16) so that all who would repent and believe would be saved. The cross stands as a sign to the willingness of God to forgive all who would repent. And should you repent of your sin and turn to Christ you will be saved from the wrath to come and enjoy eternal life.
5. It shows how far Jesus obeyed the Father in dying for all whom the father gives Him, and so if you are in Christ, you can stand in full confidence that He will keep you until the end of the age.
I think we can summarise with: Good Friday is good because it demonstrates just how Holy and good God is, and just how much God loves us. Todd Friel once said: “How much does God hate sin? He sent His own Son to die to be able to forgive you? How much does God love you? He sent His own Son to die in your place.”
Written by Matt Corrick
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Meeting every Sunday, 10:30am at The Atrium, Fylde Rd, Preston, PR1 2TQ (Access to the Atrium, where we meet, is on the Adelphi Street side, not on Fylde Road)