I’ve never been big on celebrating birthdays. I’ve been cynical for years about people who tell you it’s their birthday. “Today is my birthday. Be nice to me.” I think we all forget that literally everyone has a birthday. Just because yours happens to be a certain day doesn’t have some earth-shattering implications. In my house, birthdays are a big deal, though. This is really just because my family is thick as thieves. We love to celebrate one another. My birthday is December 17th. I’ve been asked for years about the whole, “do people just give you gifts for your birthday and Christmas at once?” The answer to that is no. And more importantly, no matter my cynicism, no matter the season, my parents have always made sure that my siblings and I get to celebrate our birthdays free of worry. For that, I am grateful.
We all enjoy getting to spend one day a year, though, where we call all the shots. Often, you get to pick what the meal of the day is. You get gifts. People send you well wishes. That’s all good stuff. It’s important that we tell people we love them often, but on birthdays, we are especially glad they are here. We look forward to the surprises and the cake. We love that. That’s the one day of the year where things can be about us almost entirely and no one really says much (my dad always makes the whole week before and after his birthday about him though– love you, dad).
So, by default, every single person gets one day a year where they can say, “Today is about me.”
Guess what? Today is also sorta about you… just in a much different way and not really about you at the same time.
Today is April 10. More importantly, today is Friday (I’m fired up). Most importantly, today is Good Friday. We know this. Twitter is going off about it. Today symbolizes the day that Jesus Christ of Nazareth was put to death by the authorities for a litany of pretty bogus charges. Today symbolizes what was, in fact, the single greatest and also darkest event in human history. Today is the day that a holy and righteous God of the universe took on the full weight of countless sin. Today is the day that Jesus Christ died the death of a criminal despite the fact that He was innocent and perfect.
And it’s our fault.
Adam and Eve committed the original sin. You and I have carried on their disgraceful legacy– willingly. Jesus died on the Cross as the atoning sacrifice for sins. The sins he died for are yours, mine, your grandmother’s, etc. He had to die because we cannot keep ourselves together. The man was absolutely innocent. Yet He was beaten, mocked, unfairly prosecuted, nailed to wooden beams, stabbed, and left to suffocate for us. Today is about you because you are the reason why Jesus had to die. I am the reason why Jesus was murdered on the basis of bogus charges. We are the reason an innocent man who was also the God of the universe was brutally crucified. That’s on us. That’s our fault.
So, why then do we call it Good Friday? Jesus was killed because of us.
We call it Good Friday because Jesus was killed despite us.
You see, Jesus was killed for your sins and for mine. But the truly deeper reality of Good Friday is that He was killed for our sins by God’s choice. God doesn’t owe us salvation. We are disgusting sinners who choose our own desires over the will of God. By our very nature, we are sinners born to sin and destined for eternal Hell. That’s us. We do not deserve a single blessing, a single word from God. He is holy and righteous and just. We are unholy, unrighteous, and unjust. Despite all of this and countless other reasons not to die for us, Jesus did. God chose that for us and for Him because He wanted to. God loves us. And He created us in order to have a relationship with us. He can’t, however, because we can’t know Him. We are imperfect and gross. We are sinners. He is perfect. Yet, “God’s love is like this that, while we were yet still sinners, Christ died for us.” God wanted to have a relationship with us. So, He willingly and perfectly chose to give us that chance. The only way to do that was through an atoning sacrifice. The only person qualified was Himself. So, He sent Jesus.
Good Friday is our fault. Good Friday is also God’s choice.
We need to understand that this holiday and this day wouldn’t have been necessary were we not sinners. We cannot come to God through works or through hollow statements. We can only come to God through Jesus. Also understand, though, that this holiday and this day happened despite who we really are. The Good News of Good Friday is that this day wasn’t necessary in all reality because God doesn’t need us. God wants us. “He calls me a Child of God, and therefore I am.” The sole purpose of Good Friday is so that God can fulfill His promise of salvation and restoration that He made to us, not because He had to or needed to, but because He wanted to.
The death of Jesus is on our shoulders. The sacrifice of Jesus is on our sins, blotting them out. The bad news about today is that it’s a solemn reminder of the fact that there is nothing I could ever possibly do to measure up to God’s standard. The good news about today is that there is also nothing I could ever do to escape the eternal love of Christ that was displayed on the Cross. Good Friday happened because of you and I. But it’s not about you and I. It’s about the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. Good Friday is only about Jesus. Not you. Not me. Not anything else. Jesus.
Some of you have read this far and you are a Christian. Some of you have read this far and you think you’re a Christian. Some of you have read this far and you are not a Christian. Some of you haven’t read this far.
The Gospel is such as this: God created humanity to be in perfect harmony with Himself. Everything was perfect. That’s in Genesis chapters 1 through 2. Humanity– starting as Adam and Eve– chose to sin and ruin God’s perfect plan for our lives. The only difference between you, me, and Adam is timing. He sinned. We sin. That’s Genesis chapter 3. Because of this sin in our lives, we cannot have fellowship with God. Because of this sin in our lives, we are culpable and guilty of eternal damnation from a holy and righteous God of the universe. That can be found in Psalm 14, Romans 3, and Romans 6. But God, abounding in grace, mercy, and love, desired a relationship with us. Because of His grace only did He send His son– an extension of Himself– to die on a Cross as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. That can be found in John 3, Romans 5, and 1 John 1-3. By confessing and repenting of your sins while also believing in and on the Lord Jesus Christ to save you from these things, God will be “faithful and just to cleanse [you] from all unrighteousness.” Then, and only then, are you saved. Then, and only then, do you have the promise of eternal life and fellowship with God. Then, and only then, do you have any sort of lasting hope.
Then and only then is today Good Friday.
If you have never responded to the Gospel, won’t you do so today? Good Friday is bad because Jesus was killed. Good Friday is good because it’s God’s plan for salvation coming to fruition. Don’t fret. Today is a dark Friday, yes.
But Sunday is coming.