But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed.
Why is Good Friday called “Good” Friday? Couldn’t we come up with a different term? Good doesn’t describe what Jesus endured on the cross. He was brutally murdered. He was mocked and tortured until he surrendered his spirit as he hung on a cross between two criminals. Not good.
I’ll bet Jesus’ disciples didn’t think it was a good day, either. They saw Jesus do miracles, from feeding five thousand to calming storms to raising people from the dead. Jesus claimed to be God. But now he was dead. And even though Jesus told the disciples about his crucifixion beforehand, I am sure Thomas wasn’t the only one doubting.
Don’t skip to the resurrection. I know, that’s the easy explanation as to why we call Good Friday good. Because Easter makes it so! While this is true, we cannot ignore what happened as Jesus’ righteous blood ran down the rugged cross. Stay there with me for a moment.
We need to consider these words:
“…upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.”
The crucifixion was not merely an execution of an innocent – well, actually perfect – man. It was that, but it was also a payment.
Sin is dark and deadly. It is treason against God. It is hatred of God. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. So what can God do? Here are some options:
1. He could let it go
2. He could kill all of us (the wages of sin is death)
3. He could pay our debt
Letting it go will not do. God is a God of justice and equity. Letting an injustice go unaddressed is contrary to his character. He obviously didn’t kill all of us. He chose the third option: to pay our debt for us. The Father sent his perfect, blameless, wonderful Son to die for us. The bloody gravity of Good Friday covered the bloody gravity of our sin. Because Jesus died in our place, we must not turn away from the violence of this day. We deserve those wounds, the spit, the mocking laughs. But Jesus bore them for us.
Don’t look away. Look right at Jesus. Consider what he endured out of his great love for us. Go ahead and picture it.
Now understand what this day means for us. It means Jesus earned the pardon of peace for us. Now, because of the work of Jesus, God gives us grace in exchange for our rebellion. Good Friday washed our hearts of the stain of sin. Praise Jesus for Good Friday, the day he paid our debts and deposited eternal grace into our hearts.
Would you pray with me?
Jesus, I was not there. But I can picture it. I cannot understand the pain and rejection you endured. But I can imagine it. I know you did that for me. I know you washed me clean and purchased me forgiveness on that day. So I want to thank you. But more than that, I want to follow you and be near you. Draw me closer, Jesus. Help me know you more. I love you. In your holy name, amen.