What Christians call “Good Friday” is coming around again. It is good because it is a yearly reminder of God’s love in action. Knowing our need to be rescued from evil and its devastation in our lives, this day has been in God’s heart throughout the course of human history. From ancient times, and leading up to this tragic, yet good day, God has made known what that day would mean. To help people who are hurting, God has given us hope through clues he has left along our historical trail. Following are some of those clues, provided by God’s word, or through happenings in people’s painful situations.
To help people who are hurting, God has given us hope through clues he has left along our historical trail.
In the Garden of Eden, God cursed the serpent who tempted the first humans to enter the way of death. God said that a person, simply referred to as “he”, would be hurt by the serpent, but that he would intervene for the good of humans by crushing the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8). When Abraham was in the midst of sacrificing his beloved son on an altar, God provided a ram to be sacrificed in place of the son (Genesis 22:9-14). Moses was chosen to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt. The final act of God’s convincing of Pharaoh to let the people go was to send an angel of death to strike down the firstborn in each family. If each family of God’s enslaved people would sacrifice a lamb and put its blood on the door of their house, the angel of death would pass over their house and death would not visit their homes (Exodus 12:12-13). One day Israel complained and rebelled against Moses and God so that God sent a plague of fiery serpents among them. When the serpents bit the people, they would die. To stop this plague from destroying individuals, the Lord told Moses to make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole for all to see. Anyone stricken by a serpent that looked at the serpent on the pole would not die, but live (Numbers 21:5-9).
King David prophesied words from the mouth of the one who would one day die. David told us the following things this man would think or say: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?…You lay me in the dust of death… a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet. They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:1, 15-18). The prophet Isaiah said this about a coming servant of God, “He was pierced through for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon him, and by his scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each one of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him… he himself bore the sin of many” (Isaiah 53:4-6, 12).
Good Friday was an act of God’s love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son” (John 3:16).
Good Friday was an act of God’s love. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son” (John 3:16). Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” “No one has taken it (my life) away from me, but I lay it down on my own initiative” (John 10:11, 18). Jesus said, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lays down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Scripture says, “God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Furthermore, we read, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
Good Friday is what sets God right with us and us right with him. The cross puts anyone who experiences it to be at peace with God, and with him or herself, and with others. This plan of God was conceived before the world began and has been announced by God in various ways since the beginning of the human race. Christ crucified on a cross is foolishness to most people, but it is the power of God for a new life, to all who seek to understand its meaning, and who are willing to die there with him.