June 28, 2010 David Balzer

Luke 23:26-56: What’s so good about Good Friday?

Why is it/ that the day when Jesus was brutally beaten and ed/ we remember as GOOD Friday?

In the fourth century a church manual called “The Apostolic Constitutions” called it “a day of grief, not of festive joy”.

And in Germany today, the day’s called Karfreitag, which means something like MOURNING Friday.

Perhaps the problem with the name is for those of us who assume that GOOD must always equal HAPPY.

In Australia today we’re consumed by the pursuit of things which make us HAPPY. New cars to big screen TV’s. New jobs, toys, wives. Surgery, diets, investments. All measured as GOOD or NOT/ on the basis of how HAPPY they make us.

It’s hard for us to imagine a day marked by SADNESS that can be GOOD.

And yet if we think a little deeper, it’s not THAT hard to think of such days. Like D Day. June 6, 1944. When thousands of Allied troops landed in Europe. Up and down the Western coast. Some of the most intense fighting of the war. Thousands .

And yet, it was the decisive turning point of the war. Within a few weeks, the back of the German resistance had been broken. It was the beginning of the end.

A SAD day. But also a GOOD day.

Here’s another example. The day my friend, Ian Smith, found out that he had cancer. Lymphoma. He was numb. He didn’t know what to think. What to pray. What to tell his family.

But it was ALSO the day he was DIAGNOSED. The FIRST day of his TREATMENT. He was booked in for immediate surgery. And tests and radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

And now his tests are all clear. If it hadn’t been for that day, he may well have been .

A SAD day, but also a GOOD day.

And when it comes to Good FRIDAY. The same is ALSO true.

It’s a SAD day. Because in the sufferings of Christ we see the extent of our wickedness. How evil and self-centred we really are. It was OUR SIN which made it necessary for God the Father to punish his son.

In the cross we see THE ENORMITY OF OUR REBELLION that would kill the one who came to save us. Our complete unworthiness.

So, it’s appropriate that TEARS fall on Good Friday. Tears of shame. Tears of sorrow. Tears of repentance.

But Good Friday is also a GOOD day. Good, because we recognise THE EXTENT OF JESUS’ LOVE FOR US. His willing, obedient, sacrificial love.

He did it for THE WOMEN who followed him as he made his way to Golgotha. Look at v27.

(Luke 23:27-28 NIV)  A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. {28} Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.

He did it for THE SOLDIERS who followed orders and crucified him. Look at v33.

(Luke 23:33-34 NIV)  When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals–one on his right, the other on his left. {34} Jesus said, “Father, FORGIVE THEM, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

He did it for the CRIMINAL who was crucified with him. V39.

(Luke 23:39-43 NIV)  One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” {40} But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? {41} We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” {42} Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” {43} Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Are there any words of greater comfort? Especially to those who know the depths of their own sin? “I tell you the truth. TODAY you WILL be in paradise with me.”

There was no chance for the criminal to put things right. No chance to repay the debt. No chance to SHOW repentance. He’d done enough evil in his life to wind up being executed. But Jesus wiped in all away with a word. And guaranteed him ETERNITY.

And, lastly, Jesus did it all for YOU. Even if you’d been the ONLY person in the whole world, he would have done it for YOU! Even if you’ve been the greatest sinner in the whole world. He still died for you. Rom 5:6-8 says

(Rom 5:6-8 NIV)  You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for THE UNGODLY. {7} Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. {8} But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us.

Good Friday is good because we recognise Jesus’ great love for us.

And there’s one other reason that Good Friday is good. Because the cross is the means of RECONCILIATION. Big word, but it basically just means TWO FRIENDS GETTING BACK TOGETHER.

A which signals a REUNION.

Former Beatle, George Harrison died in December 2001. During his final days his wife and child, and his sister, Louise were at his bedside. It was Louise’s presence that was particularly special.

She and George had been feuding for almost forty years. It began when Louise opened a bed and breakfast named “A Hard Day’s Night”.

The rift was healed only when George realised he would probably DIE from his cancer. And that this would be his last chance to put things right. It took a to signal re-union.

Louise is quoted as saying, “We sort of held hands like we used to do” she said. “We used to talk for hours about life and God and the universe. We were able to look into each other’s eyes again with love. It was very, very positive and loving.”

That’s RECONCILIATION.

The tragedy of course, is that George and Louise took SO LONG to reconcile, that they missed out on so much. The tragedy that it took A to result in RECONCILIATION.

And it’s the same tragedy with the cross. The breakdown between GOD and MANKIND is SO COMPLETE/ IT can only be repaired by means of a . The of Jesus.

And we see that reconciliation symbolised in a little detail hidden among the miracles of that day. Look at it from v44.

(Luke 23:44-45 NIV)  It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, {45} for the sun stopped shining. And THE CURTAIN OF THE TEMPLE WAS TORN IN TWO.

The curtain of the temple torn in two. The curtain which divided the people from God. Which separated those OUTSIDE the Holy Place from the Holy Place inside. The UN-holy from the HOLY. A SINFUL people from a HOLY God.

And at Jesus’ , the curtain was torn apart. The obstruction was removed.

The book of Hebrews picks up this idea of the HOLY PLACE being where GOD is. And the CURTAIN which separates us from God. And it expands on WHAT THIS MEANS for the Christian. Ch 10 v19.

(Heb 10:19-22 NIV)  Therefore, brothers, since we have CONFIDENCE to enter the Most Holy Place BY THE OF JESUS, {20} by a new and living way opened for us THROUGH THE CURTAIN, that is, his body, {21} and since we have a great priest over the house of God, {22} LET US DRAW NEAR TO GOD with a sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

We can have access to God through Jesus. We can be forgiven through Jesus. Washed clean.

Friday is GOOD because, if we are Christian, we can come to God CONFIDENTLY. TRUSTING his promise that our sin has been washed away. ASSURED of his love for us. CERTAIN of eternity with him.

And what a difference that makes to PRAYER. WE don’t come fearfully, with cap in hand. Not knowing whether we’ll be heard, or shooed away in annoyance or anger.

We can be fully assured that God is our FRIEND. Our FATHER. Who HEARS our prayers. Who’s RECONCILED to us.

What a difference it makes to the Christian who faces . CONFIDENCE that when we stand before God, it’s not the Christian’s pile of sins which God looks at, or even his pile of good works. But the perfect sacrifice of his Son. And counts the Christian RIGHTEOUS instead.

In Colossians 1, we see the language of reconciliation. V19.

(Col 1:19-22 NIV)  For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in Jesus, {20} and through HIM/ TO RECONCILE TO HIMSELF all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by MAKING PEACE through HIS , shed on the cross.

Jesus’ , which stands for HIS , is the means by which he MAKES PEACE. He puts things RIGHT between us and God. He reconciles us.

And then it goes on to describe what that means IN PRACTICE. V21.

{21} Once you were ALIENATED from God and were ENEMIES in your minds because of your evil behavior. {22} But now he has RECONCILED you by Christ’s physical body through to PRESENT YOU HOLY IN HIS SIGHT, without blemish and FREE FROM ACCUSATION–

YOUR behaviour was the cause of the relationship breakdown. Your selfishness, and lusts, and idolatry.

And yet, for ALL THAT, God BRIDGED THE GAP, restored the friendship.

That’s the offer that’s there for ANYONE who TURNS AWAY from their rebellion. Who REPENTS. Turns to Jesus. Accepts the offer of friendship.

And if you’ve DONE that. Accepted God’s gift. Then Good Friday truly IS good.

Listen to how an old hymn puts it.

We sing the praise of Him Who died,

Of Him Who died upon the cross;

The sinner’s hope let men deride,

For this we count the world but loss.

Inscribed upon the cross we see

In shining letters, “God is Love”;

He bears our sins upon the tree;

He brings us mercy from above.

The cross! it takes our guilt away;

It holds the fainting spirit up;

It cheers with hope the gloomy day,

And sweetens every bitter cup.

It makes the coward spirit brave,

And nerves the feeble arm for fight;

It takes the from the grave,

And gilds the bed of with light.

The balm of life, the cure of woe,

The measure and the pledge of love,

The sinner’s refuge here below,

The angels’ theme in Heav’n above.

To Christ, Who won for sinners grace

By bitter grief and anguish sore,

Be praise from all the ransomed race

Forever and forevermore.

And THAT’S why we call it GOOD Friday.

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