“We loved the darkness rather than the light”.
Good Friday brings us face-to-face with the ugly realities of the human condition in this world. There are a number of emotions that might swirl for Christians today, as we remember the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and a number of meanings that we might ascribe to this day. For me, perhaps the biggest theme of Good Friday is revelation. The events of today reveal the heart of God and the heart of man. The events of today show us just what humanity is capable of, and what God is capable of.
Today we mark and remember the death of Jesus, the Man whom we also believe to be God. He taught a message of good news. The news is that into the world of darkness, oppression, and violence, God will bring redemption and light. He spoke of a ‘Kingdom of God’. We pray with Him for this redemption when we pray, in the prayer Jesus taught, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.” He condemned a judgmental, restrictive, and profit-driven religious leadership who put up barriers against people who would seek the Lord. He condemned a political establishment that oppressed people. And He spoke to those who were oppressed and excluded- He offered them God’s grace, He offered them a voice, and He offered them peace in this world and the next. He spoke and acted with confidence, and more, with power- He showed power over demons-the forces of evil, and over sickness, and over death itself, calling people to repentance and new life. But, two thousand years ago, like today, those in power feel threatened by someone who would displace them, and they would do whatever it takes to keep that power.
And so, in the days after Jesus entered Jerusalem, after He was hailed as the expected godly king, after He entered the temple of God and threw out religious leaders who were profiteering and excluding foreigners from worship, those in power decided to strike back. Those who examined Him could find no crime-no blemish, but what difference did that make? The death of a commoner was expedient to the right people, and so Jesus was sent off to die. He was sent off to crucifixion- a death that was designed by people to be as painful as possible, to send a message to others who might step out of line.
On Good Friday, the human condition is revealed. In Good Friday, we can know ourselves. Why do we fear other people? Why do our secular stories peddle in fear of ‘other’ intelligence like aliens or robots? Perhaps because deep down, we know what we humans are capable of, and we can only imagine ‘the other’ must be capable of the same. We are capable of designing a means like crucifixion- a device and means to torture and kill each other; we are capable of rejecting a message of peace and inclusion to further our own goals. We are capable of killing an innocent person for expediency. “We loved the darkness rather than the light”.
On Good Friday, the heart of God is revealed. On Good Friday, Jesus, the Son of God, went to the Cross. The Scripture reminds us, Jesus had power over sickness, over evil, over life and death. No weapon formed against Him could prevail. “ The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word”. He goes to the cross not merely as a man, dragged against His will. Instead He goes as the Lamb of God, the sacrifice for sin. Sin is that human condition that makes us capable of the evil that dwells in each of us, and it is a condition that, left untreated, is fatal. The wages of sin is death, and that requires a ransom paid no other way. On Good Friday, we are drawn to the cross, to ‘behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world’. Jesus went to the cross for us, to pay our ransom, and to free us from the power of sin, that we could be free to obey-to defeat the very condition in us that brought about His death. In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. 11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. In Good Friday is revealed the heart of God- that He would become Man, and would suffer as we suffer, that we might enter His glory.
Today is Friday, Sunday will come. Today, we see the light of God, and the darkness that is in the human heart. Today, in the midst of the deepest shadows, God still calls us to repent, and to trust in Christ. Only He is the Word of God made flesh- only He can bring us through the darkness of sin and into the light of new life.