God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
There are some realities in life that we don’t like to think about. Death is one of those things. Another difficulty is human evil. Even after almost 70 years, the Jewish Holocaust of World War II is still uneasy to ponder. There’s something in us that simply can’t fathom the depths of that type of wickedness and depravity.
Despite our uneasiness with these things, Christians are called to remember the most insidious evil ever perpetrated — the merciless torture and execution of Jesus Christ, God’s one and only Son.
Good Friday is a time in which followers of Christ around the world will reflect on the sufferings of the Son of God. It’s not something that’s easy to stomach, but we are called, nonetheless, to remember Jesus’ bloody torture and death. (Luke 22:17-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-36)
Jesus was betrayed, deserted, rejected, hated, falsely accused, mocked, spit upon, brutally scourged and ultimately nailed to a cross. His torture was so horrific, the prophet Isaiah described him as disfigured beyond human recognition. (Isiah 52:14)
Good Friday is a day not only to remember Jesus’ suffering and death, it’s a time to remember our sin, and the seriousness of our rebellion toward God. It’s a day to remind ourselves that Jesus didn’t suffer and die for his own sin, but for ours. “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)
The Bible teaches that when Jesus hung on the cross, he somehow became my sin so that I could become his righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is an amazing exchange! Sin is me substituting myself for God. Mercy is God (in Christ) substituting himself for me.
On Good Friday, Jesus bore my sin in his body on the cross. As that happened, the Father poured out his justice toward my sin on Christ, the sin bearer. Jesus absorbed and became the worst of who I am so that I could become the best of who he is. That’s beyond good. It’s incomprehensible.
It’s one thing for a judge to pardon a convicted felon. It’s a completely different matter for the judge to somehow become the crime, serve the sentence himself and then promote the pardoned criminal as “Citizen of the Year.” Yet that’s what happened on Good Friday. Jesus — as the sacrificial, wrath absorbing, Lamb of God — became my lust, anger, pride, greed and indifference toward God so I could not only be forgiven, but that I could receive his goodness and become a new person from the inside out (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Father judged Christ instead of me, showed me mercy and proclaimed to all heaven that I am the righteousness of Christ.
Good Friday is a day to receive this indescribable grace and mercy and allow God’s kindness to lead us to repentance. By his wounds, we are healed, and by his blood, we are cleansed. (Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” (Romans 3:25)
John Weisman is pastor of Pleasant Valley Church in Liberty.