“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18
Good Friday. I wondered today how we ever came to call this day Good Friday. Any of us who have been intimate with death can’t possibly call it good. Death is a robber stealing so much from so many and stalking each of us every day. Early in church history this day was actually referred to as ‘God’ Friday and many believe that ‘Good’ Friday eventually evolved from that early term. Even though I cringe at this naming, I also see the truth of it. From the perspective of eternity and our own hindsight there is no Friday better than the Friday that Jesus laid down His life for us.
Jesus chose to die. He chose to die a death so complete that He bore the weight of the second death … the death that results from our choice to sin. Revelations speaks to this death … a final consequence of sin that results in permanent separation from God (Revelations 21:6-8). When I think about my own death I tend to think past it to the joy of eternal life. I can see it as a doorway that opens to that for which I long, face-to-face relationship with God; reunion with those I miss who have gone before me; the fulfilled joy of relationship! The only trepidation I feel about death is the wonder of ‘how’? What will the vehicle be that actually transports me to this other place? It is a blessing not to know because my nature is such that I can imagine avoiding at all cost any activity that might be an invitation to that vehicle resulting in a stunted life and a loss of joy today.
Jesus, on the other hand, knew. He knew the vehicle; He knew the depth; He knew not just the physical means of execution, but also the totality of loss He would experience as He bore our sins and faced second-death separation from the Father. In the greatest act of determination and love of time and eternity He did it. Staying the course wasn’t easy; in fact it was agonizing to the point of a death of sorts itself. I am overwhelmed again by this wondrous love.
Good Friday. The BEST Friday. The day that Jesus experienced and used death to overcome death for us. This day will ever and always be the epitome of God’s intentional power to bring good out of bad. Because of the horror of this day and the sure outcome on Sunday I can look at my own sin and death and, in Jesus, face it redeemed and unafraid.