Good Friday

      On this somber, yet beautiful holiday we call Good Friday, let's investigate what's good about it.  On its face, we are remembering the only perfect man to ever lived being killed by Roman conquerors at the request of jealous religious leaders.  Another example of the deep flaws of a human justice system.  What is there to celebrate?  What is good about Good Friday?
      Let's look at some of the dying statements of Jesus to see what is happening at the cross.  it would be very painful for a person dying on a cross to speak.  So anything Jesus said in that situation is vitally significant.  Each statement is a proclamation that reveals what was on the heart and mind of Jesus as he died.   To start with he prays and wants us to listen in.
     He says, "Father forgive them . . ."  Who is them?  Of course the hardened Roman executioners come to mind.  Then the self-righteous religious leaders.  I envision them with their arms crossed with a victorious, smug look on their faces.  There is the crowd, some of whom may have welcomed him as the Messiah just days ago and now had called for his death.  And then there is us.  We have all wronged people.  We have all done things that are sinful.  Years ago I read somewhere that Mel Gibson in his film The Passion of the Christ put his own hands in the scene where the soldiers nailed the hands of Jesus.  That's a powerful picture, that He and I and you all had a hand in the death of Christ.  But because of what God did through Jesus on the cross, we can be forgiven.
      Then right away we are shown the poster boy for God's forgiveness--the criminal dying next to him.  A careful reading of the gospels reveals that both criminals mocked Jesus; but then one of them changed his mind.  We don't know why, but many suspect watching a suffering Jesus praying for the forgiveness of his enemies broke open the hard heart of that criminal.  He took a long shot and asked Jesus to remember him when Jesus entered His kingdom.  Surprisingly, Jesus the forgiver says, "Today you will be with me in paradise."  What!  A mocker, a criminal, a man who could offer no good works at all?  Hit pause here.  What is it like to be this man?  He is dying.  He has wasted his life.  He is a disappointment to those who love him.  He is about to perish, to face his Holy Creator and answer for his messed up life.  And yet something about Jesus invites him, encourages him to take the risk and ask for help.  Someone who could never straighten up his act receives God's grace.  This is incredible!  It fits with another dying statement of Jesus when he cried out "It is finished."   it appears that Jesus shouted this statement.  The key here is that "it is finished" is basically an accounting term that means "paid in full."  So imagine your greatest financial debt--house, college loans, car and all of sudden it is completely paid.  Can you feel the excitement?  The cross of Jesus is about the forgiveness of sins.  Our sin debt is gone because of the loving sacrifice of Jesus.  Our guilt has a solution.    Thanks to the cross, sin does not get the last word. God does.  That word is forgiveness and that is good news!

Pastor Derek Dickinson
Journey Christian Church