Good Friday is 2 weeks away and what a perfect time to read about it and reflect on it. I love Good Friday because you can’t get away from the holiday’s message. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this but we like to put fun, kid friendly spins on holidays originated in Jesus to make it an “official” holiday. Like Jesus’ birthday wasn’t enough for us so we embraced a creepy, jolly, plump guy with a white beard who travels via sleigh and reindeer and tell our kids that he somehow fits through chimneys and gives gifts to the good kids and coal to the bad ones (by the way I’m still searching for that one kid who gets that lump of coal. If a parent seriously does that I might have to report child abuse). Or even better, Jesus’ Resurrection from the dead. Like that’s not miraculous enough and reason enough to celebrate. We had to steal a tradition from the Alsace where an oversized human proportioned bunny who hides a basket full of eggs and candy from children so they can find it in the morning.
And please don’t worry because I’m not one of “those” Christians. You know the kind that thinks that everything is pagan, secular and worldly and takes the “fun” out of “fundamentalism.” I actually practice all of those things in my family traditions and believe that one’s Christian conscience & conviction can guide that for each family. What I am saying is that there is no alternative to Good Friday’s message. There’s no redeeming Santa to St. Nick or Easter eggs to new life. It’s all about the events of that day and the implications of it. The message of this holiday is singular in purpose as we read today & it’s that we killed God on a cross & that we call this historical, bloody, gruesome death GOOD somehow.
Even other countries around the world honor this day. They may not recognize it as a federal holiday but still change the day’s usual schedule in recognition of it. For example, India, the 2nd largest populated country in the world, the birthplace of Hinduism & Buddhism, a country that is only 2% Christian closes down all of its schools, colleges, stock market and banks for Good Friday. Indonesia, the 4th largest populated country in the world and the country that holds the world’s largest population of Muslims observes it as a national holiday with govternment offices, schools & certain businesses closed by law and many newspapers refuse to publish anything on this day.
You see, universally we all recognize it as the day Jesus died and all call it “GOOD FRIDAY.” The sad part is many don’t know why it’s Good, even people in our country and in the church. We observe this day, call it good and even get that the Gospel message, which means “Good News”, comes from it but don’t see the full picture behind it. It was good because it was partly FOR US. His death was not in vain because Jesus was made to be our sin on that cross that he died on that day and that He died partly FOR US.
That little word “FOR” has pretty big implications in this Christian belief. In theological terms, it means that Jesus’ death was a substitutionary atonement. His death was in our place solely for our benefit and without benefit for himself. Just to be perfectly clear, this means that Jesus took the penalty for our sins in our place so we do not have to suffer the just penalty of those sins for ourselves. The wrath of God that should have fallen on us and the death that our sins merit fell on Jesus instead.
Read the many different Scripture passages supporting the doctrine of substitutionary atonement: (Jesus death FOR US)…
“But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
“He poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12).
“[He] was delivered up for our trespasses” (Rom. 4:25).
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).
“Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor. 15:3).
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18).
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
Jesus died for us. We have a holiday to remember it and God’s Word to show us it but do we really believe that & are our lives different because of it?
By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor