2000 years ago today, a Jewish man was set to be executed by the Roman authorities. The crowds gathered around him chanting, “crucify, crucify him!” As The roman soldiers led him to his cross. On this day in history, we celebrate Good Friday, but it’s the day we remember the obscene, brutal death of our Savior. So why call it “Good” Friday? It’s a Good Friday because of the many deaths that occurred that day. Let’s look at a few briefly:
The Death of Christ
First, the obvious, Jesus Christ was put to death. Now this is only a good thing if we understand a little bit about the purpose behind this ghastly crucifixion. You see, Christ did not just suffer the wrath of the Jewish religious leaders, and he was not just suffering the wrath of the Roman Government. Christ was suffering the full wrath of Almighty God upon that cross. Ever since the original sin of Adam and Eve, mankind has been storing up wrath against ourselves for every sin we commit. We come to understand this better when we realize that sin isn’t just a little blemish in our nature, but sin is, as R.C. Sprouls says, “cosmic treason” to the utmost degree. Sin is us saying to the Infinite, Holy Creator that we don’t need or want him because we know better. Sin is a massive debt that all mankind has incurred that we could never dream of paying off. In steps Jesus, the God-man, perfectly sinless and prepared to take on our debts by being the spotless sacrifice that God requires. Jesus dying means that the believer no longer stands condemned; our debt has been paid. God now counts us not only as innocent, but he also vicariously applies the righteousness of Christ to our life in order that we might be “Sons of Righteousness”. So we see that Christ’s death was substitutionary; he died in our place.
The Death of the Believer
The second death that we observe is the death of the believer. Paul exclaims with the utmost praise, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20). Paul was saying here that as one who has been born again we died along with Christ. His cross was our cross as well. We have been united with him in death. This means that our old sin-drenched man was crucified along with Jesus 2000 years ago. Therefore the believer is no longer, “enslaved to sin”. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Sin no longer has dominion over the one who has been radically transformed by the grace of God! Through this we see that Christ’s death was vicarious; his death is applied to us.
The Death of Death
The last death that we see is the death of death in the death of Christ. On the cross, Christ destroyed the dominion of death. By tasting death for the believer, he freed us from death’s bondage, removed the fear of eternal death, and ensured us that death is now just a doorway to lead us into our faithful lover’s arms. We can exclaim with great praise, “O Death, where is your sting? You have been defeated by the one true God, you have no control over us, just as you had no control over our Elder Brother, Christ!” Praises to the lamb who suffered and died for us! Christ’s death was victorious; by his death we are more than conquerors.
Good Friday, Indeed
These three deaths that occurred on this day, truly make today a Good Friday, but only for the redeemed. Only those in Christ share in his victory. The question we have to ask one another today echoes in the great negro spiritual, “were you there when they crucified my Lord?” Were you there, reader? Have you been united with him in death and in life? I pray that you share in the victory with me today.