Good Friday, marks out the crucifixion of Christ; after praying on the Mount of Olives (aware of what he was about to do, yet still trusting his Father and bearing the cup) Jesus was betrayed, and arrested by Judas Iscariot. You can find the whole story in Luke 22:1-23:49 but skipping forwards, he was taken before Pilate and Herod, where he was trialled, and Pilate found no basis of charge. Christ had done nothing unlawful and Pilate almost released him, however under pressure from the people, he washed his hands and handed him over to the crowds for crucifixion. He was crucified, with two criminals at a place called The Skull – nailed to a cross, and left there to die, in agony. At around noon, Christ died and gave up his spirit: the sky was darkened and the curtain of the temple (extremely strong, and thick, that separated the average man from the presence of God) was torn directly in two. The event was so powerful, that even the Centurion said, “surely this was a righteous man.” Other witness came to realise that he was indeed the Son of God. But why? May you ask, was Christ on the cross?
This world is messed-up, and full of sin (we all know that) and it separates us from God, because we become self-obsessed, and involve ourselves with all sorts of hurt. God knew that the only way to ever regain us as his children would be, to come himself, as Christ, out of love, taking all pain, and sin on the cross – even though he was perfect. The crucifixion was the sacrifice, paid for us all.
Looking in greater detail, at the crucifixion, we see a wonderful story of salvation on the cross. Beside Jesus, were two criminals; Christ was perfect, he had not sinned, and here he was, punished in the same form as two criminals. One of these criminals, began to insult Jesus, yet this is where the story become so marvellous – the other sinner told him to stop! He rebuked saying, “Don’t you fear God, since we are under the same sentence? We are punished justly for we are getting what we deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” At deaths door, this criminal accepted that Christ was Lord, and he then looked to him, in trust and faith saying, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And Jesus responded, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Here is a criminal, deserving of nothing, seeking God, and being saved with eternal life. At this minute, the criminal’s deeds were taken from his cross, and placed onto Jesus’ righteous cross. His punishment was taken – he was vindicated, and given eternal life despite his criminal acts.
Vindication is beautiful:to show that someone is not guilty of crime. In other words, through the sacrifice of Christ, all of our guilt, shame and wrong doing, has been put to death on his cross. Have you ever done something that you shouldn’t have done, and never quite forgiven yourself – or perhaps felt extremely ashamed about? Perhaps it was a crime, or maybe just a broken friendship, or telling a lie. Either way, no matter how big or small, God wants to vindicate you from this – he has already died for it, and has also died for all the wrong things that you will do in the future. What does it take? It takes trust and faith – being able to say, “You know what God, I know you can take this, and I know that you died for me, so I give all to you” That’s all – it’s not about being perfect, or doing so many good deeds, but it’s simply lifting your head, seeking his face and giving it over to his control. This is all because of love: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, so that whoever beleives in him, shall not die but have eternal life. John 3:16. Once we seek God’s face, he places a coat of salvation over us – imagine it bright white, and when ever God looks at you, he sees the pure white light of Christ, knowing that you are righteous because you have been vindicated – you are saved, and one of his children, to be granted life.
So seek God’s face – stop trying to be perfect, but rest in him, allowing the blood of Christ, and the gracious love of God, displayed on Good Friday, to fulfil you and make you righteous in him. Forgive yourself – all wrong doing, judgement, appearance and reputation has been put to death in him. Look beyond yourself, to the cross, and come to know his compassionate power, of forgiveness and sacrifice. This is love, selfless love – agape love. A love that brings life to the full!
I’d love to answer any questions – or any prayer requests! Or, perhaps, you would like to share your own personal thoughts about the events of Good Friday!