If you judge God exclusively by what you’ve experienced in your own life or what you’ve seen in the lives of others, you will likely come to some bad conclusions about Him. As Christians, we know the world is fallen, we know that people are sinful, and we know that bad things do happen to “good” people. We know all these things yet we are still surprised when we have to deal with this reality. We still think that there must be a way to organize our lives to avoid all pain, frustration, and futility. We tend to think, even though we never actually say it, that if we’re good, then God owes us a pain-free existence. It’s almost like we think we have this unwritten contract with God: We do our part, and He’ll do His part. So my question to you is how is that working for you? Probably not as well as you hoped.
On Good Friday, we remember God’s costly love for us. We set aside the questions that remain about suffering in the world and in our lives, and we focus on the One who suffered for us so that we might have life. God is not absent from the pain of this world. He came to our world, took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, and died a sacrificial death in our place so that we could know Him and be with Him for all eternity.
On Good Friday, we are tempted to skip over the pain and suffering Jesus had to endure and skip right to the glory of His resurrection on Easter Sunday. We must fight not to do that though. If we skip Good Friday, we are missing the whole story. It is the contrast that makes the whole story so amazing so don’t just read the second half.
Without the pain that Jesus suffered on the cross, there would be no glory of the resurrection. If Jesus had not died on the cross, He would not have been able to rise again. Without the death that occurred on the cross, there would be no life in heaven for us after we die.
Jesus took our punishment for us so each of us were forgiven for all the sins we would ever commit before we were even born. Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished,” and it was. It was finished. In my opinion, these are the three most powerful words ever spoken by a human.
John 19:30 (NIV)
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
When we find ourselves looking at the cross this weekend, don’t just see the pain, suffering, and death that Jesus experienced on it. Instead, see God’s great love for us demonstrated. God knew that we were doomed from our own sins and that none of us would be saved. God loved us and wanted to be with us so much, that He allowed His Son to be beaten, tortured, and murdered so that the price for our sins could be paid. It’s the clearest demonstration of God’s love for us. No one on earth will ever come close to loving us on the level that God loves us.
Romans 5:8 (NIV)
8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Reflecting on the cross reorients us to the ultimate reality that God loves us beyond our wildest imaginings. And that knowledge should give us hope.