Throughout the world, many people will have the privilege of a restful day as we celebrate Good Friday. There will be children out of school and parents relieved from work. For all of us that experience this break it will be a good Friday indeed. Most will likely spend this day doing nothing because, why not? While we should certainly celebrate this day, many of us are prone to skip over its meaning, in our eagerness to celebrate the resurrection of our savior on Easter day. In previous years both myself and my husband have treated it more like an “Easter-eve,” where we rest before the upcoming Easter festivities. Some years it was just a convenient day to hang out with friends. Honestly, I had never recognized it as a formal holiday, and maybe you have found yourself in the same boat. Good Friday is important because authentic Christianity doesn’t just preach Christ risen, it preaches Christ crucified. I challenge you to change the narrative with us this week. What would it look like to dive into scripture and be grieved this Friday? Not in defeat, but in reverential remembrance. The good part about this grief is that we know how the story ends.
Not long after the creation of man, the first Adam sinned and hid from God in the garden of Eden, and to bring about man’s redemption, the second Adam (Jesus) was sin-free. In Mark 14:36, Jesus cries, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for you. Take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, not what I will, but what you will.” It was at this very hour that Jesus would be greatly distressed by the impending separation from his Father. I look at my children and I cannot even imagine what God was experiencing, or what Christ was experiencing. It was this very hour that instead of praying with him, his disciples would fall asleep, and yet he would patiently remind them that at least their spirits were willing. I consider my friends, and I hope that they would never leave me at such a desperate time, yet can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t be able to stay with them either. It was this very hour that Judas, whose feet he washed days ago, would deliver him to his death. I consider my enemies, and the unforgiveness I pridefully harbor in light of all the grace I’ve received. It was in this very hour that every disciple would abandon him. Not far away, Peter would deny him three times. Jesus would go on to face the Sanhedrin, and repeatedly be questioned, ultimately being mocked, beaten, and spit on. “Prophesy!” they would demand of him. As if he couldn’t call legions of angels to assist him, he would be patiently silent instead. Just like us when we look to experience his power without honoring his person, they demanded his power while denying his deity. As we can see the day before, and the day of, Jesus had anything but a “good” day. If nothing else, I’m drawn to his reality that day, in stark contrast to the Good Friday I usually choose for myself and my family as we celebrated Jesus without acknowledging the gravity of all he endured so that we could celebrate.
Jesus is tied up and delivered to Pilate. Pilate questions Jesus’ criminality, ultimately offering that he would release Jesus, as it was the custom to release one prisoner at the Passover. Every one of us could have been present that day, somewhere in the crowd shouting for the release of Barabbas instead. Every time we choose a comfortable lie, over the convicting truth, we demand for the release of a murderer in exchange for “offensive” truth. Any time I let the deceptive comforts of lies and half-truths become my reality, I conform with the crowd that crucified God. I think about how many Good Fridays I sat my kids in front of a TV that aired some non-sensical cartoon instead of giving them the gospel because I had not even considered what it took for Jesus to make it possible for me to know him as Christ. Jesus would be dressed in a purple robe, a rose thorned crown, countless cuts and bruises, and ultimately the guilt and shame of sinful humanity. Even Pilate must have sensed something peculiar about this Jesus, imploring him to make a case for himself. John 18:10 reveals Pilate’s plea, “Do you refuse to speak to me? Don’t you know that I have the authority to release you and the authority to crucify you?” Jesus informs him that Pilate’s authority can only come from above, and sensing his uneasiness Jesus assures him, “This is why the one handing me over to you has the greater sin.” This is what it looks like to be so determined to fulfill God’s will that you would confront your oppressors with the truth of God’s sovereignty in light of their wickedness. Jesus knew that every offense that came against him that day was in accordance with God’s will, and while he didn’t approve of Pilate’s actions, his actions proved that he had faith in his original prayer, “Not my will, but yours Lord.” How often do we pray for God’s will to be done in the face of deadly adversity, much less trust in it in the simplicity of our daily lives? Most of us have not faced death like this. Most of us have not been placed on trial for our life unfairly only to trust God without defending ourselves. If we’re honest, most of us struggle to trust in God’s will for our lives and in the lives of our children when things aren’t necessarily going terribly wrong they’re just not going our version of right. And yet, on the most painful day of his earthly life, Jesus stood in truth. Can I choose complete comfort and satisfaction every year on the very same day? In Mark 19:15-16 Pilate would implore the Jews once more, “Should I crucify your King?” and the chief priests would answer, “We have no King but Caesar!”. We wear the prideful garments of the chief priests when we choose the approval and recognition of people instead of Jesus, while pridefully shouting the names of our second-hand kings. There are so many times where I have shied from sharing God’s truth for fear of what people would think, and instead I treated this day like it were just any day, partaking in worldly vices and in hindsight, blatantly ignoring the suffering of Christ.
The Gospel of Mark tells us Jesus was led away by soldiers, as they mockingly saluted him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” I could see all of us in those Roman uniforms laughing as we praise the King of the world every time the fruit of our lives is not consistent with the praises we shout in his direction. We declare that Christ is one thing to us, while our lives may quite possibly be making a mockery of him as we stand in the grace-filled shadow of the one who carries his own cross to be crucified between two criminals. Finally, at noon, darkness would fill the land and Jesus would cry out, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Mark 15:33-34) His greatest anxiety, separation from his father, became his reality. He did this so that our reality, separation from the Father, wouldn’t have to be our eternity. You and I could be reconciled forever. Not long after, Jesus would breathe his last breath declaring his finished work, a declaration that echoed into eternity. This is why we don’t need to wait for Easter Sunday to commemorate Jesus with authentic praise. The celebration should begin Friday if we fully understand what he did for us on the days preceding his resurrection.
This Good Friday, Let me encourage you to commemorate the gospel. Without the willful death of Christ on Good Friday, there is no Resurrection Sunday. My children don’t need to be entertained by a TV show that won’t matter a year from now, they need to know what happened on this day in history, and what that means for us eternally. Going into Easter, we should posture ourselves to not only remember our resurrected Jesus, but to really meditate on our beaten, battered, and exhausted savior who faithfully endured to the end. The bible tells us that Jesus was sin-free, meaning that even in the face of completely unmerited brutality and death, Jesus did not even entertain a sinful thought against any of his oppressors. Walk through Scripture with your family to not only understand who Jesus was but also understand who we are in the story. We are the tired disciples in the garden who, after a long day of caring for the things of the world, can’t stay awake to pray with our Lord before he went to the cross for us. Let’s change the narrative this Friday and spend time in prayer instead. We are the disciples who scatter like sheep when things go wrong in our lives and we begin to lose trust in who Jesus says He is, instead of trusting the Shephard. Be intentional about silencing your doubts and let the unchanging character of Jesus be your anchor. We can all identify with Peter, nurturing fear in the face of those who mock our savior rather than standing firm in the truth of who Christ is. Immerse yourself in scripture this Good Friday, because it is God’s unchanging truth that declares the reality of Christ that gives us the courage to stand firm with Him. We are the Sanhedrin, that yell and demand instantaneous representations of His power to convince us that he really is God in the flesh. We should approach God in repentance for all the times he alone was not enough. We are the chief priests pridefully flashing our allegiance to worldly things all while boldly denying his kingship. Let’s turn off the TV and turn on the praise and worship music to sing the praises of the King of Kings as we give him authentic praise this Friday, because he is worthy.
While every one of us would’ve failed this divine assignment, Jesus endured to the end, being reminded every second from every offense through every person, that we were desperately sick and in need of his victory over sin and death. Let this not only be a celebration of the risen savior but a celebration of his victory. We are no longer the corpses that enthusiastically made themselves enemies of God. We do not have to carry the shame or the guilt of our past, now we can come boldly to God (Hebrews 4:16). In order to truly teach and demonstrate an appreciation for Easter in our families, we must understand the dark reality that our savior endured days prior. This Good Friday and Easter Sunday our families should commemorate with great praise the power of the lamb because there is nothing more important in this Christian life than glorifying the God we serve. He gracefully and faithfully endured to the end, defeating sin and death, and walked out of that tomb so that he could call us out of our own. Now since his spirit is walking with us daily, we can eagerly take up our crosses and follow him so that one day, we can touch the wounds that healed us as he is lavished in our affections for eternity.
- Taya Wallace