“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” ~Jesus
At the time of me writing this, yesterday was Good Friday. So, what exactly made Good Friday so good? An innocent man was beat into a hamburger-like state, spat on like he was the worst pedophile in human history, and then literally nailed to a giant cross. That doesn’t sound so good to me. How could we possibly call such a day, Good Friday? Faces of Death Friday sounds more appropriate! How in the Sam Hill was yesterday good for Jesus?!
It wasn’t. It was good for us. It was good for everyone except Jesus. It was our Good Friday–not His.
So that begs the next question: Why was it good for us? Why did we even need Jesus to do what He did? I’ll get to that in full detail in just a minute, but here are the CliffsNotes:
Good Friday–the day Jesus was sacrificed–was good for us because Christ took the entire brunt of our sin problem head on, and removed this problem from us once and for all, therefore giving us the opportunity to become spiritually perfect exactly as God is, by grace through faith (see John 1:12, 1:29, 1 John 2:2, Hebrews 9:28, 10:10, Romans 6:6, Colossians 1:22, Ephesians 1:5, 2:8-9). And now, post-Cross, every human being has free access to this sin-punishment pay-off through our faith in Him as the Messiah because only the blood of the Messiah could save us by removing our sin with God forever rather than covering it up. The event at the Cross finalized an agreement with the Father and the Son–not us–we are simply the beneficiaries to that contract, which did not go into effect until Jesus’ death occurred. As a result of this promise between God and God, we will stay saved forever from the very moment we believe Jesus forgave us because Jesus will never die again. We literally become reborn in our spirits–the everlasting part of us–as our old spirit dies with Jesus, and is resurrected as a perfect creation while still here on planet earth in non-perfect bodies (see Hebrews 6:17-19, 7:25, 9:15, 9:22, John 3:16, 19:30, 1 John 3:9, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 3:3, Galatians 2:20, 3:28, 2 Timothy 2:13).
The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God–that is, all of humanity, as a whole–this is not referencing Christians (Romans 3:23). However, Jesus never sinned, so He never fell short. This is what made Him the perfect sacrifice for us. The Bible also says the wages of sin is death, but God’s free gift is eternal life in Christ (see Romans 6:23).
So Good Friday is good because of Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us. Now, “all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (at the Cross)” (see Romans 3:24, my note added).
So when I got home from work yesterday evening I decided to watch The Passion of The Christ. It was Good Friday, what better a day? Also, I wanted to watch it because it is so gruesome. This sounds a tad bit sadistic but that brutality Jesus went through reminds me of just how much He cares for me–in turn, it reminds me of just how much I should care for the people who hurt me.
I’ve seen this movie six or seven times since originally seeing it at the theatre in 2004, and each time I watch it, I can’t help but cry. When it was first released, I sobbed in my seat, then after it was over I walked out the movies baffled as to what I just witnessed. “Wow…” Now when I watch it, I even try not to cry, but I can’t help it. It’s beautiful. It’s barbaric. It’s my Jesus.
To know that was for me, for my eternal salvation, it moves my soul every time! What pain Jesus went through for me–and for whosoever believes in Him! You are a whosoever! (See John 3:16). That pain was for all of humanity, not just for a select few.
But to be honest with you, this was years in the making for me—actually caring about Christ. I wasn’t always like this. At first, sure, I loved Jesus, but at the same time I resented Christians. I know that sounds stupid to say, but so many legalistic, unloving, self-righteous Christians had misrepresented what Jesus had finished for me (on Good Friday), that I didn’t even want to be in the same room with them.
They wanted me to be like them, and I wanted to be like Jesus.
Although I had been saved since I was a kid, when I was new to truly allowing Jesus to live through me—that is, actually caring about what He wanted from me—it was difficult. Because of my unrenewed mindsets, I disliked religious people on a very deep level. I loathed those who found their identity in their church works and so-called lack of sin.
Letting Jesus “live through them” was not what these people were doing, yet, they advertised that they were. It’s no wonder why so many of the lost won’t give Jesus a chance. It’s because of the conditional-love, grace-confused Christians. Nobody wants anything to do with that except for other Christians who act the same way.
The devil used them to attempt to make me feel like I actually could lose my salvation–as if Jesus’ finished work on the Cross wasn’t suffice if I didn’t “straighten up” like them, so that I could complete my salvation. This was total horse-crap. They should have been walking around with shovels.
To top that off, my mind wasn’t very mature in Christ because I was still learning about His grace and biblical truths of that grace. As a result, I still had tons of fleshy sin in my life, stuff which was very difficult to give up. My “Christian drinking” and my “innocent” porn habit was not matching up very well with my newly-in-charge perfect spirit. Especially now that I realized I wanted to allow Him to guide me each day.
I also wanted to keep my daily marathon sessions of video game playing just as it was–while ignoring my family–that wouldn’t work either. Furthermore, the enemy and my angry, unrenewed thought pockets wanted to hang on to hate toward my enemies, “I’ll get you back! You’ll see! Mess with me? Ha! You’re crazy! I will win!”
Oh, but it doesn’t end there. I still held with a death-grip, my absolute refusal to give up control of every situation in my life! And I stonewalled against forgiving those who had hurt me so terribly! “No freaking WAY am I forgiving you!”
I could hold a grudge with the best of them! My old mindsets did not want to give these things up–and more! Jesus, however, wanted to reform and reshape the landscape of my life, but my attitude was:
“Why should I?! Why should I like you church people?! You self-righteous, cliquey jerks! All you do is make me feel worse! Why should I stop drinking?! It’s the only thing that helps me relax! Why should I stop looking at porn?! I’m not getting any satisfaction any other way! Nobody appreciates anything I do! Everyone uses me! Why should I forgive THEM again, and again, and AGAIN?! Why should I chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaange?!”
“Do it for me.”
Jesus was speaking to my heart, “Do it for me, please. Trust me. I see your pain, I feel your pain, and I know how deeply it hurts. I’ll use it for a great purpose, but you must hand that pain to me. Make these changes because they match up with me, and I live inside you. Trust me, I have a better plan for your life, a peaceful plan. I’m going to use this unfair stuff for good, and yes, it will get worse at times but I’ll still be here.”
“Yes. I’ll show you.”
“Okay, Jesus. I’ll do it. Help me.”
“I will. I already am helping you. I’ve been helping you your whole life.”
My friend, Jesus knew that Good Friday would become good for Him as well, but only after He paid off our debt with God. So He knows the benefits of painful sacrifice and He wants to teach us the same. It is in our actions that show Him our appreciation of such.
We don’t change our lives for Jesus to earn a spot in heaven, or to keep ourselves from losing our spot either. We change our lives because we appreciate Him, because we love Him, and because He wants us to finally live out the perfection we’ve received in Him, on Good Friday.
A prayer for you: Jesus, I want to thank you for what you’ve done for me at the Cross. I can never pay you back, but I will still show you my gratitude forever. Today, I ask that you touch the hearts of everyone reading this who still have doubts about what you’ve done. Please make it perfectly clear to them that your sacrifice 2,000 years ago made them spiritually perfect in the eyes of God–ONCE they believe that it has. Open up their minds to your grace and let them understand how easy you’ve made access to heaven for us. Help them to remove any incorrect mindset of legalism, and old Jewish commandments or laws. Instead, help them to understand your New Covenant by grace through faith. Thank you for dying for us, and thank you for coming back to life to prove to the world that you truly are the Son of God! Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!