They call this Friday good. “Good for us, and not so good for Jesus,” I thought as a child. This was the day Jesus fell victim to the sins of humanity and the brokenness of creation, or so I understood.
The gospel of John tells a different story. Jesus the Christ is no victim. He became man in order to redeem humanity from slavery to sin; in order to save sinners, he planned to die. He taught his followers about a kernel of wheat falling into the ground to die. (John 12) He was that kernel, and in his own words, “It was for this very reason I came to this hour.”
- Hear Jesus as the soldiers drew near: “Who is it you want?” and then “I am he.”
- Hear Jesus as Peter fights to defend him: “Put your sword away. Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
- Hear Jesus before the High Priest: “I have spoken openly to the world…I said nothing in secret.”
- Hear Jesus before Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it were not give to you from above.”
- Even the clothes that Jesus was wearing was distributed in such a way as to fulfill a prophecy from Psalm 22.
- Hear Jesus from the cross, still caring for those he loved: “Dear woman, here is your son.” “Here is your mother.”
- Hear Jesus from the cross, fulfilling the scriptures: “I am thirsty.”
And it is Jesus who says, “It is finished.” Jesus gave up his spirit. Jesus gave up his spirit. It was not taken from him; he gave it up. John 10:18 quotes Jesus saying, “The reason the Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again."
This is no “rose, trampled on the ground.” This is no victim, “taking the fall” for other criminals. This is sovereign God, laying his life down on our behalf.
Oh, this Friday is good! It is more than good! When Jesus laid down his life, the veil that had separated God from his worshiping people in the temple of Jerusalem was torn in half…from the top down! God was eager and waiting to be reunited with those who believed in him, those who gathered to worship him; God was eager enough to tear the curtain. (See Mark 15:38)
Oh, this Friday is good!
Thanks be to God!