The joy of the Empty Tomb following the sadness of Good Friday has been on my mind this week like never before—almost as if I expected something wonderful to happen on Sunday. Something bigger, somehow better than what happened on the first Resurrection Day. 

When Jesus came alive again and stepped out of the empty tomb, it was the biggest miracle ever seen on this earth. It will only be topped when He steps off His throne and onto Mount Zion again. (Revelation 14:1) That day will be awesome and wonderful but it will also be terrible and devastating, just as the events of Holy Week were both marvelous and horrific.

There would be no Easter Sunday without the nightmare of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Silent Saturday so we do well to remember the last week of Jesus’ pre-crucifixion life. (John’s account of Thursday/Friday of Holy Week)

Unmet Expectations…

Fresh off the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection, (John 11) Jesus rode through a palm-branch-waving, hosannah-shouting, crowd-lined street. He stepped off the never-ridden-colt in Jerusalem to celebration, acclaim, joy, and great anticipation.  Everyone expected Jesus would soon break the stronghold of the Romans, overthrow their government, and establish His own Kingdom, even the ones who opposed Him. (John 11:47-53)

Imagine for a moment how the disciples felt after three years of dusty roads, raw wheat eaten in the fields like beggars, rough sleeping conditions, and the scorn and ridicule of the religious leaders who held considerable power over society and every day life.

As the palm branches waved, visions of thrones, power, and riches probably danced in their heads. Not one of the disciples likely expected their dreams would crumble and die at their feet in less than a week’s time.

Holy Warning…

But Jesus knew and He tried to warn them. Over and over again.

God is love. He is patient. Kind. Generous. Forgiving. I could go on and on but you know. He is good, but He is also righteous and just.

God’s reason…

His rightness demanded a payment for the sin of the world but His goodness and His love knew we could never remit. (Romans 5:6-8)

To be perfectly candid, I find Jesus’ payment for my sin scandalous and outrageous. Would I sacrifice my beloved son for a world full of arrogant, selfish, rebellious people who treated me as if my rules for life were absurd? Absolutely not.

Would I ask my precious son to leave the glory, beauty, and perfection of heaven to suffer a horrific death in order to redeem people who would rather worship a piece of wood, a scrap of gold, or a temporary pleasure than my own goodness and holiness? Not in ten million years.

I wouldn’t ask my son to make such sacrifices for me, let alone for a rebellious and horrifically sinful world. If the redeeming sacrifice was up to me, everyone would go to hell including me because the sacrifice God devised is not one I would make—not even with resurrection on the horizon.

Triune response…

Nevertheless, the Triune God not only devised it, He wrapped Himself in the ill-fitting garb of flesh and did it. He came in obscurity, lived in righteousness, sacrificed without limit, died alone and rejected, and rose again in triumph. (John 1:14, Philippians 2:7)

Holy Week was one of the most unholy of weeks. Our Lord was betrayed by one of His closest friends. Denied three times by another. Arrested on trumped up charges so absurd no one who knew Him could imagine a conviction, yet the terror didn’t stop there. Beaten so badly He was nearly unrecognizable, Jesus endured a night designed by and sent from hell. Literally. By the time he made it through the darkest night of His soul, Jesus was convicted and sentenced to the most heinous of deaths—crucifixion.

Nothing about the day and night we call Good Friday was good except our flesh-wrapped Jesus, the perfect and holy Son of God, and His willingness to take our place.

He could have refused. Could have called for a rescue. He could have rained down fire from heaven and destroyed His enemies. It would’ve been entirely understandable if He did.

But He didn’t.

Willing Sacrifice…

He left the glory of Isaiah 6 to suffer the indignities of Isaiah 53. Stayed the course. Made the sacrifice. Fought the battle. Won the war. The silence of Saturday, when it looked as if all hope was gone, was shattered by the scrape of stone rolling away and the shout of triumph as Jesus rose from the dead and stepped out of the tomb. 

Our Response…

As we commemorate the day so many centuries ago when our Lord painted a picture of love, grace, and mercy with His own blood, let’s take time to examine our hearts. May we choose to…

  • Take note of our own moral smallness in comparison to His magnificent holiness and respond with awe, humility, and repentance.
  • Surrender with nevertheless obedience and live as if His sacrifice was worth it—because it was.
  • Commit ourselves anew to praise, honor, and glorify the King of Kings and Lord of Lords who hung on a tree as nails tore through His holy flesh and His lifeblood dripped down His near-naked body because my sacrifice there wouldn’t have been enough.
  • Surrender our attitudes of entitlement and complaint and choose a life of gratitude.
  • Live as the redeemed for His resurrection defeated sin and death and set us free.

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy; I have come that they might have life, and may have it abundantly–Jesus (John 10:10)

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*Scripture links are to the New Living Translation for ease of reading. I enjoy reading this version but I prefer to study from the New American Standard Bible.                                                                                         

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Repentance and the Benefits Package

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Contentment Regardless of Circumstances

Repentance: It’s Not Optional

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What's Good About Good Friday?