Good Friday always sounds like such an oxymoron; at least at first glance. I was reminded powerfully this morning about why that “good” in Good Friday is there.
I was visiting one of our church’s shut-ins, bringing communion. We began in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Then we moved right into a confession of sins. I’m aware that not every Christian church does this on a weekly basis as a whole group, but it is a powerful reminder at the beginning of any service about who we are and why we are there.
After the confession I spoke those words of absolution, words I have spoken many times before. “Almighty God in His mercy has given His Son to die for you and for His sake forgives you all your sins. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, and by His authority, I therefore forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
As I finished speaking he looked up and with a smile on his face said, “That’s my favorite part.” I couldn’t agree more. Those words never grow old. God, through Christ, has forgiven you all of your sins: those of the past, present and future.
Jesus’ words of forgiveness put the “good” in Good Friday. On that first Good Friday as Jesus was hanging from His cross that afternoon He looked down on His tormentors and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)
Those words are powerful. Perhaps it was hearing those words that caused one of the other two criminals hanging beside Jesus to repent and say, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Without skipping a beat Jesus replied, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43)
There is much more that can and will be said of this, the best of good days. But wherever God takes you today ponder these words of Paul in his letter to the Romans.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died – more than that, who was raised – who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 8:31-35, 37-39
Jesus puts the “good” in Good Friday!