Greater love hath no man than this
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, who was with him at and since the creation of the world, to die the agonising death of a cursed criminal. The cross that killed the Son of God blotted out our every sin: that which was torture for Him was a sweet gift to us – the path to eternal life.
On this Good Friday, take a moment to reflect on the man hanging upon that cross. Consider that our every selfish thought, our pride, our fits of anger, our lies, jealousy, greed and intolerance drove those nails into His feet and hands. Even in His deepest agony, He was forgiving us.
The death of Christ brought His disciples to the very depths of despair: they were abandoned, mocked and disillusioned. And yet they possessed within their hearts the peace which passes all understanding: an assurance, a hope that their time of testing might pass and that the curse of death might be conquered.
They did not know; they believed.
And the message they believed has been central to the Christian faith for almost 2000 years. It is one that has to be reinforced continually at times of stress, despair and danger; the moments when faith is tested and the will to overcome is undermined. This is why Good Friday is so central in its symbolism: the descent of darkness, the portents of destruction, the expiry of vision and hope. Good Friday comes to every person at different times, when failure robs life of all meaning, joy and love. It is the collapse of enterprise, confidence, relationships and dignity. It is the descent into Hell.
Christians endure what Josephus referred to as ‘that most wretched of deaths’ on Good Friday because of the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection: it sustains us through the despair. But this life does not promise the joy and ecstasy of Easter: that is for another place. All that we can expect on earth is to be persecuted for the sake of righteousness: the world will hate us, but it hated Him first. We may be cast aside as weirdos, extremists, phobes and bigots. But they despised and rejected Him first.
Today is a time to reflect, remember, re-enact how our sin brought Jesus to His death on Calvary and what that death meant for our sinfulness and redemption. How can we not be grateful? Love so amazing, so divine, demands our souls, our lives, our all.