As we’ve looked at Good Friday as a household I have been amazed again at God’s goodness. That seems a bit funny as you read the narrative of The Passion. Jesus dies a brutal death. And before that he is beaten and whipped and spat at. He carries a wooden cross and is nailed to it. He is mocked by those around Him. I have in the past got stuck at this being the goodness of Good Friday – that Jesus would take so much so that I could be forgiven.
But in preparing for the Good Friday service, I have re-read the gospel accounts and discovered more to it. Jesus heals the guard’s ear in Gethsemane. He asks for forgiveness for the very people subjecting Him to such brutal torture. He hears the criminal on the cross next to Him recognise Him as Lord and gives him eternal life. Even in the most desperate of circumstances, Jesus’ nature of love is still at work – it is who He is.
Having experienced the loss of my son James, re-reading the gospel accounts I also found myself thinking of what Mary and Jesus’ close friends must have felt. Can you imagine how Mary must have felt watching her boy being nailed to a cross? Having to trust somehow as he took his last breath that God had a plan. Having to hold on to hope – that what Jesus had spoken of was absolutely going to come to pass?
Then I read something that I’d never really noticed before that made me think about hope in death:
Matthew 27: 51-53
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life” (emphasis added).
Good Friday is about sin and being justified so that we can have relationship with God – absolutely – but it is so much more. In one moment, we were given unfettered access to the kingdom of God once and for all. In one moment, death was beaten – and Jesus hadn’t even been resurrected yet. There is that saying; ‘it’s Friday but Sunday’s coming’ – but in this passage, God showed me the hope that is in the midst of death and pain.
Thanks to the cross, both me and James now get to take part in the Kingdom of Heaven – on earth and in heaven. It is pretty mind blowing isn’t it. The good of Good Friday for me isn’t just that Jesus went so far for me – or the revelation that He was so committed to relationship with me that even if I was the only one on the planet, He would have gone to the same lengths. Or that sin was dealt with once and for all. All of those things are indeed absolutely awesome. But after everything we have gone through the last few years, discovering the hope of heaven in the middle of death has truly broadened my grasp of Good Friday. I can sing with confidence that lyric ‘Now death where is your sting? Our resurrected King has rendered you defeated’, and I don’t have to wait for Sunday to come. Be encouraged – you don’t have to wait either.