Morning by Morning, April 14 - "Good" Friday -- Through Rejection to Rejoicing
Good morning, Lord Jesus. Crucified, dead, and buried, raised from the dead and forever reigning at the right hand of my Father, You are the Lamb of God who took away my sins and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah who defeated my spiritual foes. You are the "the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" (Revelation 4:8) Come into my heart and every moment of my day. ...
"As soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and the scribes and the whole council. They bound Jesus, led Him away, and handed Him over to Pilate.... and after flogging Jesus, (Pilate) handed Him over to be crucified.... Then the soldiers led Him into the courtyard of the palace.... And they clothed Him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on Him.... They struck His head with a reed, spat upon Him, and knelt down in homage to Him. After mocking Him, they stripped Him of the purple cloak and put His own cloths on Him. Then they led Him out to crucify Him.... It was nine o'clock in the morning when they crucified Him.... Those who passed by derided Him, shaking their heads and saying, 'Aha! You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself, and come down from the cross!' In the same way the chief priests, along with the scribes, were also mocking Him among themselves and saying, 'He saved others; He cannot save Himself.' Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.' Those who were crucified with Him also taunted Him. When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o'clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?' which means, 'My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?'... Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed His last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now the centurion, who stood facing Him, saw that in this way He breathed His last, he said, 'Truly this man was God's Son!'" (Mark 15:1-39)
This is the day we call "Good Friday" -- "Good" because the Good Shepherd of our souls laid down Your life for Your sheep, "Good" because every prophetic act of the slaying of the Passover lamb since the days of Moses until that day was fulfilled in the Passover Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, "Good" because the One who knew no sin became sin for us, "Good" because "in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself," and "Good" because You humbled Yourself in the likeness of human flesh and blood to be willingly crucified for us that "through (You) God was pleased to reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of (Your) cross" (John 10:11; Philippians 2:5-11; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Colossians 1:20).
As I read through this passage of Your Word this year, I'm especially struck by the depths of utter rejection You suffered for me -- from the religious and self-righteous, from the soldiers and sinners, from the powerful and prideful, even from what felt like Your Father in that moment that we can't begin to understand, when You took upon Yourself all my sins and all the sins of the world on our behalf, as the sinless, suffering servant of God and eternal Son of God.
In that moment of deepest rejection, You eternally fulfilled the prophecies and promises of God for our salvation: "He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.... By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.... He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:3-12 NKJV).
You bore all rejection, so that I would be forever accepted. You were willing to feel forsaken, so that I would be forever embraced. You were willing to bear all my sins and all that would ever separate me from the love of God, so that "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, (would) be able to separate (me) from the love of God in Christ Jesus (my) Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).
Your rejection was my redemption. And in my redemption, I rejoice in You. Though it pains me to read and remember all You endured for me, it also brings me great joy to know You took great joy in offering Your life for me upon that cross: "for the sake of the joy that was set before (You), (You) endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and (have) taken (Your) seat at the right hand of the throne of God" (Hebrews 12:2). That's the only reason why we can call this day "Good." In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.