When I was a little kid, I had a hard time understanding the whole meaning of Good Friday. How can the “untimely death “of a 33 years old man on a bloody Roman cross be a good thing? How can dying to be good? How can defeat be a good thing? What good can come out of false accusations, jealousy, and hatred? These and many other questions plagued me as a kid. Good Friday cannot be good!
The unjust condemnation of an innocent man by one of the greatest “kangaroo courts” on the face of the earth on trumped-up charges by zealous men with wicked intent; for selfish gain.
The man under trial was betrayed by one of his close confidants, who sold him for money. After spending three and a half years with his master and teacher, he knew where to go get him. This close confidant was entrusted with the “treasury,” yet he betrayed his master for 30 pieces of silver.
He led the soldiers and the chiefs and elders to the garden of Gethsemane. There he identified his master by giving him a kiss. Yes! The kiss of betrayal eventually led to the crucifixion of his master on a wooden Roman cross by Roman soldiers. During the trial, the accused man had no lawyer and defense. Charges were levied against him from all sides; some people slapped him on the face, and other spit on him. He was mocked, taunted, humiliated, and whooped in the public square for no reason. During this whole ordeal, he did not struggle to defend himself, although he could. He did not try to free himself, although he could. After all, was he not a miracle worker? Had he not turned bread into wine, feed five thousand people with 5 loaves of bread and two fishes? Was he not the one that raised the dead back to life?
His only chance of being freed was squashed by the very public that had benefited from all his good deeds. The people he healed, feed, delivered, encouraged, and comforted rejected him. The people preferred a thief and murderer (Barabas) to an innocent man and asked for the guilty one to be released instead of the innocent one. But shouted crucify him, crucify him when asked if the innocent man should be released. The crowd was so worked up and agitated and demanded the blood of an innocent man.
The Roman ruler who had the power to set this innocent man free chose not to because of political correctness and the desire to protect his job. Pilate, the Roman governor, washed his hands, but he had failed to take responsibility for his actions. He was more concerned about being politically correct and keeping his job than doing what was right. How can this be? How can such injustice be done so callously? You will be surprised by what people will do when it comes to advancing their own agendas, when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, winning an election, getting a promotion, and a raise.
The condemned man was made to carry his own cross to the place where he will be crucified. When he arrived at the place of his death, two other condemned thieves were there already. The Roman soldiers stripped him naked and nailed him on a wooden cross. He died a shameful, disgraceful, painful, and disgusting death among two convicted criminals. How can this be a good thing? It was a bloody mess, to say the least.
You will be surprised to hear that his only “crime” is LOVE. This 33-year-old man loved others more than his own life. In his own words, he said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.” For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Love is more than feelings and emotions. Love requires sacrifice and, in his case, death. Perhaps you are wondering what this has to do with you or where you fit in. The life of this innocent 33 years old man who was brutally killed has influenced my own life profoundly, and I think there is much we can learn from him. Jesus of Nazareth, the man we are talking about, was on a mission and stayed on the course. He did not give up and did not quit, even when the going got extremely difficult, unpopular, and dangerous.
It got to the point where he laid down his own life willfully because he was a man of principle. Paul says this about him, “Being found in appearance as a man, and He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” His obedience cost him his life. He could have taken the road of least resistance. He could have done what was politically correct. He could have done what was popular and acceptable to many. But He challenged the status quo and the establishment. He took the road least traveled by many. He chose death over life. He died so that others will live.
Many people ask why a good and benevolent God allows so much suffering in the world. Before you give up on God, remember that Jesus of Nazareth was both man and God, and he suffered and died a bloody death on the cross.
Have you been betrayed? Jesus was! Have you been unjustly treated? Jesus was! Have you been rejected? Jesus was! Have you been wrongfully convicted? Jesus was! Have you been abandoned and forsaken by those you love and trust? Jesus was! Have you been ridiculed, misunderstand, and mischaracterized? Jesus was Have you been physically abused? Jesus was! Have you been shamed, wrongfully accused? Jesus was! Are you in pain? Jesus was! Are you under tremendous pressure to quit? Jesus was! Are you weary and tired? Jesus was!
What made Jesus succeed and what will make you succeed is making up your mind never to give up no matter what! Never to quit no matter what!
Jesus died, and out of his death came the forgiveness of our sins, and billions all over the world have found peace, life, and hope in him. Make your life count by walking in love and doing to others how you want them to do to you. Good Friday is indeed Good because the untimely brutal and unjust death of a 33-year-old man has reconciled us to God.