Good Friday was bad for Jesus. (Though, for one of those counter-balancing biblical statements see Hebrews 12:2 that surprisingly tells us Jesus endured the cross “for the joy that was set before him”.)
Early Friday morning. The Jewish Council binds Jesus and takes him to the Roman governor Pilate. The night before in Gethsemane garden a sword-armed mob from the chief priest had arrested him. His disciples ran. After the Jewish Council at a special midnight meeting found Jesus guilty of blasphemy (for calling himself Christ), they showed up with the sunrise at Pilate’s door because Rome had banned Jewish executions. They need Pilate to complete the crime. Their outrageous charges mean nothing to the governor, who would have freed Jesus had it not been for an agitated mob crying “Crucify him!” Fearing a riot (and a political black mark from Caesar), Pilate surrenders.
Friday 9 a.m. Jesus is spiked to a cross, a condemned robber on either side. The charge, intended to discourage copy-cat crimes, is nailed over his head: “THE KING OF THE JEWS”. Passers-by laugh at him. Chief priests mock him. The thieves revile him.
Friday Noon to 3 p.m. Darkness. It’s as if the created heavens are convulsing at the Creator’s crucifixion.
Friday 3 p.m. Jesus’ pitiful scream pierces the darkness: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He breathes his last. Jesus becomes another Jewish corpse sagging on a bloody cross.
Described medically, crucifixion was sadistically cruel. Described spiritually, apart from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, it was beyond belief. The prophet Isaiah described Jesus’ crucifixion like this: “the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6a). The apostle Paul explained it this way: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Those statements—except for their familiarity—are mind-blowing. The Lord took all my sins off me and put them on Jesus! He made sinless Jesus to be sin for our sake—so we sinners could become God’s righteousness!
Good Friday, bad for Jesus, was infinitely good for us who believe gospel news like this . . .
Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:4,5).
For while we were still weak,
at the right time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6)
. . . but God shows his love for us
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8)
Christ loved us and gave himself up for us,
a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2).
. . . [Christ] has appeared once for all at the end of the ages
to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (Hebrews 9:26).
. . . we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all (Hebrews 10:10).
For Christ also suffered once for sins,
the righteous for the unrighteous,
that he might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18)
Worthy are you [Lamb of God] . . . for you were slain
and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on earth (Revelation 5:9,10).
This is why on Good Friday we soberly reflect on Jesus’ suffering. It’s why we rejoice worshipfully at Jesus’ sacrifice. And why we bow in awe at the throne of our providential God who turned Friday the Bad into Friday the Good.