I’m sat outside writing today’s blog post. After a late morning spent enjoying the company of various friends and family and ushering in the afternoon by relaxing in a rare stint of UK sun, it feels like a good day. It seems totally contradictory to the entire reason that we have this bank-holiday in the first place. And yet, not without a hint of irony, we label the day ‘Good Friday‘. We honour the day that Jesus Christ, the Son of God was nailed to a cross and crucified. A day of darkness and sadness. And yet a precursor to the victory that would soon be won. The ‘Message’ translation of a chapter from a book called Isaiah in the Bible puts it so brilliantly that I couldn’t help but copy the whole thing. Regardless of your beliefs, I strongly recommend reading the whole thing, even if you don’t believe it:
1 Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?
2-6 The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
on him, on him.
7-9 He was beaten, he was tortured,
but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
and like a sheep being sheared,
he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
or said one word that wasn’t true.
10 Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.
11-12 Out of that terrible travail of soul,
he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
will make many “righteous ones,”
as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Today is a sad day. But it’s also really is a good day. It’s the day that Jesus lifted the weight of our own failings and rested them on his shoulders. The ultimate sacrifice by the Creator for the created. Sin that had plagued us since the fall of Adam and Eve no longer had a hold on us. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. This is a significant day. I’m especially grateful for the sacrifice that was made for me and for you by the Son of God.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” 1 John 4:9-11
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” 1 John 3:16