By Ps Lim Wei-en
“What is so good about Good Friday?”
This is a question that might be asked of Christians from those not of the faith. And, from their perspective, it is a fair question. For why should we call the day we commemorate the crucifixion of the founder of our faith “good”? What is so “good” about remembering a bruised, battered and bloodied Jesus?
The answer, of course, lies not so much in what happened to Jesus on the Cross, but what Jesus’ suffering and death achieved for us. The Apostle John frames the goodness of Good Friday in this way:
This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:9-12)
From these few verses, the goodness of Good Friday is clearly seen, and believers of Jesus Christ can boldly affirm at least five ways Good Friday is “good”. Because of Good Friday…
We are alive. Where once we were as spiritually dead as we could be in our transgressions (Eph. 2:1), now, through Christ, we have life. God “sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him”. He sent the One through whom all life was given into this world, so that through his death, we might have life. We were like prisoners on death row with no hope of being set free. But Good Friday flung open the doors of prison and we were given new life. Lord, help us to never take this new, abundant, eternal life that we have in Christ for granted!
We (know we) are loved. We were once God’s enemies, rejecting his rule over our life, turning our backs to him and going our own way. But God so loved us that he “sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”. It might be humanly understandable to sacrifice oneself for a family member or friend. But the idea that a holy God would sacrifice his only Son for his sinful enemies is unfathomable! (Romans 5:10) Such is the extent of his love for us. Lord, help us to keep opening our hearts to your boundless love for us!
We are pardoned. The term “atoning sacrifice” in the original is the Greek word hilasmos, more fittingly rendered “propitiation”. Propitiation is the satisfaction of a holy and just God by the full payment for sin. On the Cross, Christ become our substitute, bearing the full brunt of God’s wrath that should have been directed towards us. Because Christ assumed our guilt and took on our punishment, we are now pardoned and do not need to suffer for our sins. Lord, help us to grasp the extent of your mercy for us through Christ!
We are cleansed. Because Christ, the perfect sin offering, sacrificed himself for us, we no longer need to bear the guilt of our sin. Like Joshua the high priest, whose filthy clothes were replaced by clean garments (Zech. 3:3-5), we too have been made clean. The filth and stench of sin have been removed from our lives through the blood of Christ (Hebrews 9:14). Lord, help us to never forget the price Christ paid to make us clean and pure in your sight!
We are transformed. Having received new life in Christ, God’s pardon and cleansing, we are transformed from self-centered beings who used to only love ourselves to other-centered beings capable of loving others. “Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”. Indeed, because we have been recipients of God’s extravagant love, it is our joy and duty to love others in such a way that will make God’s love complete in us. Lord, continue your work of spiritual transformation in our lives so that we may love others sacrificially and generously, like how you love us in Christ!
May the truth of these affirmations sink deep into our hearts and may we ponder anew, and thank God for, how good Good Friday truly is!