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Your Good Friday Choice

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Why it’s called “Good Friday” made no sense to me for 28 years.

What possible good could there be in the sadistic torture and excruciating crucifixion of the innocent Son of God who came to teach us how to live? Surely God didn’t find anything good in it.

Despite believing that Christ rose from the dead, I thought God was mad at the world for what we had done to His Son.

I remember a Good Friday at age 18 when we were given an extra hour off from work at lunchtime to attend church service. I spent the time on a bar stool.

Ten years later, on Easter Sunday 1967, the goodness of that Friday finally made sense after listening to a sermon about the meaning of the Cross and the empty tomb. I looked at the cross on the wall behind the pulpit. At that moment, I envisioned Jesus with outstretched arms, telling me, “I love you this much.”

Like the repentant lawbreaker crucified next to Jesus, I was included in His sacrifice for sin.

His faith was great because, unlike the rest of us, he didn’t have the vantage point of the empty tomb. He believed that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, based solely on the amazing grace Christ expressed as He was dying: “Father, forgiven them, because they do not know what they’re doing.” His grace at death also convinced a hardened Roman centurion responsible for Christ’s crucifixion.

Good overcame evil. God was both just and justifier of the condemned. Law and mercy met in harmony. The sinless One became sin for us, which is why Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

There was another criminal on a cross on the other side of Jesus who heard the same words of forgiveness, yet he insulted and reviled Christ. He wanted Jesus to prove that He was the Messiah by stopping evil then and there, demanding:

“Aren’t You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”

Of course, none of us has ever presumed to judge God by questioning why He allows evil. The next time you’re tempted to ask why, get on your knees and thank Him that He defeated evil once and for all time on the Cross.

Christ was saving them and us from the ultimate evil—spiritual death—eternal separation from God. But the unrepentant criminal was interested only in salvation from physical death. He was a sinner who saw himself as undeserving of punishment as was Christ. The repentant man reminded him that he was a law-breaker about to meet the Law-Maker:

“But the other answered, rebuking him: ‘Don’t you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we’re getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.”

“And He [Jesus] said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise.”

Paradise is wherever Jesus is. There is no paradise apart from Him. His sacrifice made it possible to welcome us back into the Garden. Heaven is for real because Jesus said so. If He doesn’t convince you, what will?

Here’s your question this Good Friday. If you died today, do you know that your sins are forgiven and that you would be with Jesus?

If you plan on convincing God that you’re better than a criminal, here’s your problem. The criminal isn’t God’s standard of righteousness—Jesus is. How do you measure up to Him?

If your plan is to eat, drink and be merry and make a death bed conversion like the repentant criminal on the cross, don’t. He’s the exception, not the rule. He knew he was dying. You don’t know when you will die, or if you’ll have time to repent. Don’t trust your hardened heart to go soft at the end, even if there is time. The Bible says:

“Now is the day of salvation.”

If the repentant man hadn’t been dying, Jesus would have told him the same thing he told other sinners, “From now on sin no more.” He’s the One who defines sin, not us.

If you say you don’t have enough faith to believe, maybe you should be prepared to be judged according to the measure of the repentant man’s faith. Being on this side of the empty tomb makes us more accountable regarding the evidence and our measure of faith.

If you’ve never objectively considered the evidence for Christ’s resurrection, is it reasonable to make a judgment affecting your eternal soul? There are resources available here, here, and here, for example. Be sure to read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Ask yourself. “If Jesus isn’t the Messiah, who else could qualify?”

If you haven’t examined the evidence and persist in refusing to do so, don’t ever serve on a jury. Would you want to be judged by a juror like you?

Christ died to save the world. But like the two criminals, you have to make a choice. Repenting from sin and asking Christ to be your Lord land Savior is the only way you will ever experience what’s good about Good Friday now and forever.

Jesus said:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God.”

You too will be assured: “He is risen indeed!”

 

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