So, Good Friday. I’d imagine we pretty much all know the story, we’ve all heard the phrase “Jesus died to save us from our sins” or if you’re really on it and up with the Bible, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” However, after a while, questions about this start festering. Questions like why. Why exactly did Jesus have to die? Why exactly is it called Good Friday? Well, as it seems like a fairly fundamental question to the story, it might not surprise you to know that a lot of people have spilled ink and spent breath trying to answer this and that is why a lot of what is to be said in this blog is not not entirely my own words and ideas, more a collaboration of many things I’ve heard and read over time.
Either way (and this is just me), when thinking about Good Friday, I like to think about it in terms of past present and future, however in this case, present being the first Good Friday itself (the past being what came before, the future being what came after). It’s also sometimes easier to think of His death as a symbol rather than cause and effect to try and figure out just why Jesus had to die and whether it really achieved the initial goal.
So, the past…
1. Before the ‘New Covenant’ you may have heard about, Jews had to sacrifice animals as an offering to God as repentance for their sins. They would pick the biggest, healthiest, fittest, most pure animal they had in order to show God just how much he meant to them. This was good, but quite frankly, not quite good enough. Because, realistically, we can pick the best we’ve got but nothing is perfect. At least it wasn’t until God showed us how to do it. God sent an absolutely perfect sacrifice to show us just how much we meant to him.
2. Fulfilling scripture. If you look through the Old Testament, you will find countless descriptions of the Messiah to come, descriptions conveniently all fulfilled by Jesus. These prophesies explained how Jesus had to die, a symbol of just how much God loves us. It’s easy to see Jesus’ life as just saying “It’s Me. I am The One”. Quite simply, in terms of scriptures, it had to be done, this was telling us that actually yes, this is the Christ they’ve been speaking of for hundreds of years.
So what about on the day…
3. Quite a simple point but many people believe that Jesus physically took our sins down to Hell. Makes sense, the Bible does indicate that Jesus endured total separation from God (Hell). On a practical level, it really does help if you die if you’re trying to pop by Hell.
4. There is pain in forgiveness. There is also a big difference between tolerance and forgiveness. Tolerance is saying you’ve done something wrong but that’s okay. God doesn’t tolerate sin. He’s saying you’ve sinned and that’s not right but you’re forgiven. But when someone really hurts you, it hurts to forgive. It hurts to say, this is not okay, but I’m going to let it go. Now imagine you have the whole world hurting you. Jesus’ death is a physical embodiment of the pain of His forgiveness. The thing is, he’s still effectively being crucified today. Still we are sinning and still it hurts to forgive. I think this one helps me come to terms when people say it was our sin that held Him there (even though it was thousands of years before we were sinning) – The serious physical pain on the cross represents the serious pain of Christ that is still going on today. Remember, God doesn’t get anything out of forgiving us, it literally is all for us.
5. Also, when Jesus breathed his last, the curtain in the temple tore in two. The curtain that separated the holy of holies from the rest of the temple that could only be entered once a year by the high priest to talk to God, I’ve heard it was quite dramatic. This was hugely significant, God sent his Son to create a new relationship with us. Jesus died. The curtain was torn. Anyone can talk to God.
6. The wages of sin is death. This is what it says in the Bible, meaning the legal sentence for sinning is death. Jesus was the only man to walk the earth that never sinned and yet He still died. He took our punishment for us as the only one who didn’t deserve it. He took one for the team if you like. Jesus died so we don’t have to.
But even with all this – forgiveness, a relationship, realistically it still seems quite a mess. Jesus came to save us and then He died. People told him to save himself and he didn’t. He left not with the intention of simply starting a religion. With seemingly minimal instruction. The truth is, Jesus died for a whole multitude of reasons, if only there was a way that this all could happen without having to die.
Which brings be on to the future…
7. Jesus died to conquer death. He literally died and rose back to life – Death has no grasp on him. Jesus died so we could have eternal life (just ask John) by physically showing us that he is bigger than death. He rose to show us it can be done and that through Him, we can do it too. Death is not a worry anymore.
So no, there may not be one answer as to why and no, this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface as to why, but I can’t think of any other act that would have fulfilled all of this in one. So yes, it may have been vicious but it’s only when you start to uncover more and more reasons that you can start to make sense of some of the so called cliches – Jesus died simply because he loves us, because he loves us, because he loves us. The point is, Jesus is alive now and so are we. And thanks to our good friend, a few years ago to this day, we always can be and that’s pretty cool. 🙂