Good Friday! How could it possibly be called Good Friday?
The day on which your leader and hero was brutally
executed? Jesus was flogged, ordered to carry the cross on
which he would be crucified and then put to death. At first
sight it is difficult to see what is ‘good’ about it.
It certainly was an agonising death. The articles on pages
3&4 explain how offensive crucifixion was in the ancient
world, and how unthinkable it would have been for them
to wear it as an item of jewellery!
But strangely the gospel writers do not focus on the
physical suffering. Mark simply says ‘With a loud cry, Jesus
breathed his last’. John records ‘Jesus bowed his head and
gave up his spirit’. I know Hollywood likes to do the blood
and gore but that’s not where the gospel writers put their
It is in the Garden of Gethsemane, the night before Jesus
was executed, that we begin to see the true agony of the
cross. We are told that he began to be deeply distressed
and troubled, and then he prays to his Father ‘Take this
cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’ (Mark
14:36). Why does he refer to his death as drinking a ‘cup’?
He has in mind it’s use in the Old Testament when God
said to Jeremiah ‘Take from my hand this cup filled with
the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I
send you drink it’ (25:15). Jesus knows that his death will be
the drinking of the cup of God’s wrath, the judgement that
each one of us deserves for the dishonourable way that we
have treated God. Although he understandably recoils
from it, he will take upon himself the holy hostility of God
against my sin!
This explains why, on the cross, Jesus cried out ‘My God, my
God, why have you forsaken me?’ (the words are even
recorded in the original Aramaic, direct from the lips of
Jesus). During those dreadful hours of darkness Jesus
experienced the full weight of our sin, and utters that cry
so that we might understand what is happening! He was
forsaken, so that through him we might be welcomed
forever; he was treated as the worst of sinners, so that
through him we might be forgiven and made righteous
forever! (see the Theology Corner on page 11).
In the centre pages we asked some church members for
their favourite hymn about the Cross. Here’s one that
rejoices in the good news of that Jesus ‘swap’, and why all
who experience it have no doubt that it was indeed Good
Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished
Do join us for our services at St John’s this Easter, and may
you know the great goodness of our God!