To those watching, it must have seemed like the end of the world. Jesus, who only days previously had triumphantly ridden into Jerusalem to the adulation of the crowd’s loud shouts, cries, and praises to God, now dragged out of His overnight stay in a pit to be tried in kangaroo courts, appearing before earthly authority to hear himself slandered and lied against. Then tortured by the soldiers; mocked, beaten; whipped with leather thongs containing fragments of bone that ripped the skin open. Carrying the top bar of His cross through the Jerusalem streets which were now transformed; not praise but laughter, shouts, curses. Stumbling. Lifted up on the cross naked and humiliated before the spectators. Mocked again and laughed at. The interaction with the two thieves. The skies going black as night as though the very sun was ashamed to shine, as Jesus prays and commits His spirit to the Father. Breathes His last.
The Son of God, did you say? The Saviour of the world? He cannot even save himself.
But for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, this is true wonder. Things are not what they seem. Jesus, truly the Son of God, the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, embraces weakness, vulnerability, and is overcoming the world. Mercy triumphs. We see Him whipped? By His stripes we are healed. Enduring shame? Yet He despised shame, hanging there in our place, and look! It is our shame that He is carrying. The weight of mankind’s sin is resting upon Him and see! It is our sin that He is carrying. See, he carries the curse of the law, of sin and death, away from us for “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”. Gal 3:13.
Hear His cry:
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit”. And having said this, he breathed his last.Luke 23:46
And his legacy for you and for me: healing, reconciliation, freedom, liberation from the law of sin and death; shame mocked and disempowered forever. Curses broken. His dying gift to you and me is life. To the worldly-wise, the proud, the cross of Christ is utter foolishness, but for those of us who believe, it is the power of God unto salvation.
What wisdom from God! So absolutely unlike the wisdom of this world. The weak destroys the strong.
Have you ever found yourself walking in the valley of the shadow of death? Been misunderstood, lead about, mocked, cursed? Found yourself where you would never choose to be? Fallen into sin? Felt the guilt, and sensed Satan breathing down your neck? Believing that even God has abandoned you? My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Friends gone, utter darkness, no hope? If you have – Quick! Look again at Jesus on the cross. See him there, his nail-pierced hands outstretched to welcome you and to take it all away. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. It’s the Divine Exchange; he who was rich became poor, that we who are poor might become rich. (2 Cor 8:9)
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:George Herbert
Such a Way, as gives us breath:
Such a Truth, as ends all strife:
And such a Life, as killeth death.
In the darkness and gloom of Good Friday, look up, not down. Marvel at such a Saviour; such love, such amazing grace, and welcome him afresh to come and find rest in your heart.