Good Friday is celebrated annually to commemorate the Crucifixion of Jesus. But wait, why do Christians celebrate a mere torture tool? What happened on the Cross when Jesus hung 2000 years ago? That is what I want to address in this post. My brother Jeremy (aka Jerry) joins me in this one. Together we will try to unpack this for you.
The Cross of Jesus is one of the most famous symbols in our world today, right? Think about it, people around the globe get tattoos embodied on them. Horror movies commonly use this symbol to create a dramatic scene to fight off demons/evil forces. Churches all over the world have this symbol nailed within their halls. However, in the midst of its popularity and fame, a lot of people really don’t understand what exactly happened on that day to that Cross. The truth is when Jesus hung on that tree in Golgotha 2000 years ago, it forever changed the course of human history. So what happened on that fateful day?
I’m going to ask my brother Jerry to unpack this for us…
On that Day…
I’m going to try and explain this with an illustration. There was a Judge who was known to be just. One day his son is convicted of a serious crime. The punishment for the crime is a huge fine, an amount too great for the son to bear. The judge now faced a dilemma. If he absolved his son of the crime, he’d compromise Justice. If he gave the appropriate judgement, some would question whether he really loved his son. And so he faced a conundrum. After much fretting, the judge did something shocking. He gave the appropriate judgement, took off his robes and paid the fine.
This is essentially what the Cross represents. Make no doubt from the previous illustration, the Judge is God and the son represents us as people. You see, we are sinful people. God hates sin, God and sin cannot coexist. In other words, God is the very antithesis of sin. In Isaiah 59:2, God turns His face away from the Israelite’s because of their sin. He hates sin so much that He crushed his son on the cross for the sake of humanity.
There had to be a judgement because of our sins. The punishment for sin is death and eternal separation (see Romans 6:23). God is a God of Justice and Holiness and cannot tolerate sin. To do so would be to forfeit his own character. God is also a God of love and Mercy. We are forever his obsession, made in His image and pride (see Genesis 1:26). He loved us too much to see us perish. Thus the Cross satisfied both his Justice and Love. There really was only one way. God had to do something humanity couldn’t do. John 3:16 says he so loved us that he gave his Son to die for us. Jesus took off his heavenly robes, came down and paid the penalty, his very own life. And what a death it was. He was tortured, beaten and mocked with three Nails on the Cross. Every breath was agony and excruciating pain. Yet he chose this death because he saw each and every one of you and thought “You’re worth it”. This is Real Love. This is why it’s ‘Good Friday’.
As we face the Cross, then, we can say to our ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there” and “He did it, his love took him there”
— John Stott, The Cross of Christ
So what does this mean to us as Christians practically? Let’s find out, I’ll let Sam take it away from here…
Living To & From the Cross
For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
— 1 Corinthians 2:2 (NIV)
I’m going to use this verse as a pivot. Paul is essentially making a decision here in 1 Corinthians 2:2. He is making a decision to be determined to fix his focus on what Jesus did for him on the Cross for him. He was consumed by it inside-out. He is not going to spend the rest of his days contemplating all of the knowledge, education and information he has gathered over his early years. In fact, those things now mean nothing to him in comparison to what Jesus did on the Cross for him and humanity (see Philippians 3:7-11). He is basically making this statement to people around him that he is going to consider, obsess and immerse himself in the message of the Cross for the rest of his days.
We too have to make a decision you know.
I believe we need to decide what we’re going to live for and what we’re going to die for. For instance, when you get to the end of your life, what are you going to be known for? A deep question to ask yourself right? Well, after reading this text it is pretty clear that our gaze and focus must be towards the Cross of Jesus. Personally, after walking for many years with Jesus, I now begin to see the beauty of the Cross. I don’t want to be known as a man for anything apart from being passionate about Jesus and His Cross. We need to take hold and know Christ to this end. Everything else seems to be little in magnitude and comparison to what Jesus did on the Cross for you and me.
In essence, we need to live our lives to and from the Cross of Jesus. In everything we do, may our lives reflect the great sacrifice of Jesus on that fateful day. It is to this end, we must live our lives.
It was by his death that he wished above all else to be remembered. There is then, it is safe to say, no Christianity without the cross. If the cross is not central to our religion, ours is not the religion of Jesus.
— John Stott, The Cross of Christ
It’s time for us to go back to that Cross. My desire and prayer is that we would fall in love with all that Jesus did for us on that Cross. What a beautiful sacrifice. That is where I believe we begin to understand the depth of our Saviour and the height of Love He has for us. This in turn changes our very character, lifestyle and relationship with God.
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– Sam D. Mathews