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Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

Today is Good Friday. It is the day on which Jesus died. It followed a night on which Jesus was betrayed, arrested, denied, and forced to stand trial for crimes He did not commit. Many false witnesses were brought in to testify against Him, but their statements didn't even agree. Yet, He was accused of blasphemy and condemned to death. He was spit on and beaten. After enduring a long and difficult night, Jesus was then bound and brought before the Roman governor in Jerusalem, Pontius Pilate, in order to be executed (Matthew 27:1-2). And this is how Good Friday began. So, why do we call it good?

When in the custody of Roman soldiers, Jesus was mocked and insulted. A crown made of thorns was placed upon His head, the thorns piercing His flesh and causing intense pain. The soldiers then struck Him on the head with a staff, driving the thorns deeper (Matthew 27:28-30). Jesus was flogged to within an inch of His life (John 19:1). When Pilate then brought Jesus before the crowd that had gathered, he asked them what He should do with Jesus. The crowd shouted, "Crucify Him!" (John 19:15) Some of the voices now yelling for His crucifixion were the same voices that earlier in the week had shouted, "Hosanna!" and "Blessed is He who come in the name of the Lord!" (John 12:12-13) Pilate had even offered to release a prisoner and gave the crowd a choice between Jesus and an insurrectionist and murderer named Barabbas. The crowd chose Barabbas. And yet we call this day "good."

Jesus was then handed over to the soldiers to be led to Calvary and crucified. Nails were driven through His hands and feet as He endured one of the most horrific forms of execution ever devised by man. And, as He hung there, dying on that cross, Jesus was mocked and insulted by people passing by, by the religious leaders, and even by one of the criminals being crucified along with Him (Matthew 27:38, 41; Luke 23:39). As all of this was taking place, the sky became as dark as night and remained that way from noon to three o'clock. It was the darkest day in history, and yet we call it "good."

Jesus endured tremendous suffering on that day. And, yes, it is good. It is good because when Jesus uttered the words, "It is finished," then died on that cross (John 19:30), He was giving His life for you and for me. Although He was without sin, He took upon Himself all of our sin and paid the penalty that we really deserved. He conquered sin and death. And that is good. When Jesus breathed His last, the temple curtain was torn in two (Mark 15:37-38). No longer did sin separate us from the presence of God. And that is good. God loved us so much that He willingly gave His only Son, Jesus, to die for us so that, when we believe in Him, we can have eternal life (John 3:16). And that is very good!

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