Was it not a good Friday that preceded the Resurrection on which we pin our hopes for salvation? In fact, some would refer to that Friday as not only good but the best ever. Murmur not that we can confidently refer to a Friday on which our Savior was crucified as God.
We often speak of the Cross as a stark and unrelieved tragedy; as the most awful, wicked and incongruous thing which ever happened on the planet. And in a sense we are right. Almighty God’s Son comes to earth, lives as a man among men…and he is whipped, spat upon, pierced with nails and hung up naked for leprous sinners and harlots to jeer at. It is too shocking to be credible. It was indeed the most incongruous thing that ever happened on this planet.
So there it is. The sublime paradox. A great crime. The world’s worst; heaven’s best.
What did the author of the Book of Revelation mean when he said ‘A Lamb slain from the foundation of the world? The Cross is in all life. It has been in life from the beginning: from the foundation of the world. It is indeed so much in life that you could call it the foundation itself, the ground plan of the universe. Our life is all tethered on a cross.
Let us see if we can understand more clearly why the Cross was necessary. We shall not understand it all. The deep mystery will elude our probing. It is sin that takes the holy God – incarnate here on earth- and treats him as a beast. It is sin that takes the gracious loving Jesus who never harmed a soul and spent all his days in doing good; and strips him, spits on him, pierces him with nails— and then laughs at him.
That is sin. Our sins this day nailed him to the Cross. Don’t say I was not there. The Lord knew what you would do since you were in your mother’s womb. He does not direct your every move but he has the divine prescience to know. Gossip, greed, bigotry, slander, pride, anger and envy, etc, nailed him. Sin is dead.
Without shedding of blood there is no remission. It is death which gives life. The New Testament has no theories about the Atonement. Find time during Good Friday to sit quietly before the Cross. Just sit and meditate as the Passion hymns. And as you sit and it will dawn on you that only a crucified Saviour could meet your need.
A Canon tells of how he came out of his Church one day and saw a young man staring incredulously at a crucifix and seeing the parson the young man said: “I don’t see what good it done the Father that his Son should die like that.’ What a confusion of ideas lies behind that remark. It wasn’t the good of the Father but the good of unrepentant sinners that led our Lord to die upon the wood. And in his well-beloved Son the Father suffered too. If you say that God required the penalty, you must also say that God paid it. Make no division in the Godhead. It is bound to be false.
Those who see this life as it is see tears in things. Enjoy it while you can. Seize every scrap of legitimate happiness, but remember life is not a picnic. How could I say to that young girl whose husband was killed during the rebel war? How could I speak to those parents whose longed-for turned out to be a cretin? How could I speak to the multitude of sufferers in a world like this if one had no crucified Savior to speak about?
There are tears in things—and there are tears on the face of Jesus, for his own suffering, but for that of others. Is it not recorded that Jesus wept? He weeps with the sufferers still and those whose hearts may be bitter and resentful.
Behoved it not that the Christ should suffer these things? Can’t you see it had to be?