Good Friday – what could possibly be “good” in connection with a crucifixion? The Son of God – unjustly condemned as a criminal and put to death by way of one of the most horrific, torturous, and gruesome practices in the history of mankind. But while the practice of crucifixion itself is horrifying, the eternal implications of Jesus’ death are where an unbelievable amount of “good” can be found.
Over the course of this week, I’ve been trying to think through the “weight” of the upcoming Easter weekend. It’s truly a great celebration in the life of a believer, and it’s always the Sunday we look forward to as a church. But to sit & try to think through what really took place…to try to sort through the implications & ramifications of the events of that weekend so long ago…it’s something we really can’t completely wrap our minds around. To contemplate the enormity of what was accomplished by our suffering Savior on the cross of Calvary is an overwhelming exercise of the human mind. But I wanted to at least make an attempt to look at what was fulfilled for those who have placed their faith in Christ when Jesus said, “It is finished.” By no means is this an exhaustive list, but hopefully it will at least provide a framework for understanding.
Substitution: First and foremost, the death of Jesus was in our place. It was the death we all deserve…but man’s sinful state is so depraved that we aren’t even capable to pay the penalty for our own sin. So in God’s love, He sent a substitute – the God-Man. Because sin has been committed by man, only another human could be our substitute (the debt alone is mankind’s). But it had to be a sinless, spotless sacrifice – so this substitute also had to be fully God in order to be the perfect sacrifice. God sent Himself to meet His own demands to be the substitute for our sin. “Amazing love! How can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?” (; ; )
Propitiation: Christ’s substitution brought about propitiation. Because of our sin, we were under the wrath of a holy God. God, being just and righteous, cannot overlook or excuse sin. Sin demands a payment, and “the wages of sin is death.” But in the death of Jesus as the sinless sacrifice on our behalf, God literally poured out His wrath as He punished & cursed His Son for our sin. So again, in His love, God Himself provided the means by which His own wrath would be appeased. “And on that cross as Jesus died, the wrath of God was satisfied.” (; ; ; )
Atonement: Closely connected to ‘propitiation,’ atonement means to cover, or to satisfy. In the Jewish sacrificial system, the Day of Atonement took place only once a year (). That was the only day the high priest could enter the holy of holies of the tabernacle or the temple to make atonement on behalf of the people of Israel. There were a lot of specific requirements (with the most important involving bloodshed – ) that went along with this ritual in order for God to be satisfied with the sacrifice, and for the sins of the people to be atoned for (or forgiven). However, on the cross Jesus presented Himself – and His own shed blood – as the once and for all sacrifice. The one-time, sufficient payment for all sins – past, present, and future. “Jesus paid it all – all to Him I owe. My sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” ().
Reconciliation: The satisfaction of God’s wrath & the atonement for sin is the prerequisite to our reconciliation. Our sin created a gulf between us and our Creator. The relationship & perfect fellowship originally established in the garden of Eden was broken with the original sin of Adam and the perpetual sin nature of mankind. The death of Christ removed that barrier between God and man, and brought restoration to that relationship. Never is it mentioned that God is reconciled to us – rather, we were the ones at enmity with God, and we alone were in need of being reconciled to God. (; )
Redemption: We were slaves to sin, and slaves to the law (which only magnifies our sin & offers no way of escape). The substitutionary death of Jesus purchased us from the very slavery of sin & death. He paid our ransom with His very blood. “Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb! Redeemed through His infinite mercy; His child, and forever, I am.” (; )
Justification: This is the legal declaration based solely on what was accomplished by Jesus, in our place, on the cross. It is nothing we can work for or earn. The very moment we place our faith in Christ’s work on our behalf, His payment for sin is applied to us personally, and all of our sins – past, present, and future – are forgiven. We are not “innocent” – we are pardoned. Positionally, God no longer looks at us as a sinner, but instead sees us through the righteousness of His own Son. The divine exchange made possible by the blood of Jesus – He took our sin & gave us His righteousness. A one-time act that has an eternal effect. “Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free. For God, the Just, is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me!” (; ).
In no way is this any kind of an exhaustive list, but all of these glorious truths were made possible & accomplished at the very moment Jesus victoriously proclaimed, “It is finished!” This is the “good” in Good Friday – that what needed to be done, and what we could never do on our own, was perfectly carried out for us. But perhaps the BEST thing about Good Friday, is that Sunday is just around the corner! When Jesus cried, “It is finished,” the payment had been made & He knew the funds were sufficient. But when He rose from the dead 3 days later, the check was cleared and sin, death, and hell were defeated forever!
His resurrection ultimately sealed the fate of death itself (). It sealed our inheritance, and it gave us a guaranteed hope of new life in Him, and eternal life with Him (; ; ). The weight of Easter weekend, then, is so much that the very focal point of all human history is centered on a bloody cross and an empty tomb. It is the basis for not only our salvation, but for any and all forward movement in this life. “It is finished” is a cry that echoes on through eternity and brings victory, freedom, and hope to all who repent and believe in His Name (; ). It is the banner under which the believer lives his life, and it will be the basis of our unending praise throughout eternity. May our minds and hearts be saturated this Easter weekend with these great truths of what Jesus has accomplished on our behalf!
“Man of Sorrows” what a name for the Son of God who came;
Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Guilty, vile and helpless we, Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! Can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior!
Lifted up was He to die, “It is finished,” was His cry;
Now in heaven exalted high: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
When He comes our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring;
Then anew this song we’ll sing: Hallelujah, what a Savior!
5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (ESV)
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his stripes we are healed. (ESV)
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
1 John 4:10
10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (ESV)
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. (ESV)
25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. (ESV)
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities. (ESV)
16:1 The Lord spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the Lord and died, 2 and the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron your brother not to come at any time into the Holy Place inside the veil, before the mercy seat that is on the ark, so that he may not die. For I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. 3 But in this way Aaron shall come into the Holy Place: with a bull from the herd for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. 4 He shall put on the holy linen coat and shall have the linen undergarment on his body, and he shall tie the linen sash around his waist, and wear the linen turban; these are the holy garments. He shall bathe his body in water and then put them on. 5 And he shall take from the congregation of the people of Israel two male goats for a sin offering, and one ram for a burnt offering.
6 “Aaron shall offer the bull as a sin offering for himself and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. 7 Then he shall take the two goats and set them before the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 8 And Aaron shall cast lots over the two goats, one lot for the Lord and the other lot for Azazel. 9 And Aaron shall present the goat on which the lot fell for the Lord and use it as a sin offering, 10 but the goat on which the lot fell for Azazel shall be presented alive before the Lord to make atonement over it, that it may be sent away into the wilderness to Azazel.
11 “Aaron shall present the bull as a sin offering for himself, and shall make atonement for himself and for his house. He shall kill the bull as a sin offering for himself. 12 And he shall take a censer full of coals of fire from the altar before the Lord, and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small, and he shall bring it inside the veil 13 and put the incense on the fire before the Lord, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is over the testimony, so that he does not die. 14 And he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the front of the mercy seat on the east side, and in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
15 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. 16 Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses. 17 No one may be in the tent of meeting from the time he enters to make atonement in the Holy Place until he comes out and has made atonement for himself and for his house and for all the assembly of Israel. 18 Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the Lord and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and some of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar all around. 19 And he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it with his finger seven times, and cleanse it and consecrate it from the uncleannesses of the people of Israel.
20 “And when he has made an end of atoning for the Holy Place and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall present the live goat. 21 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. 22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
23 “Then Aaron shall come into the tent of meeting and shall take off the linen garments that he put on when he went into the Holy Place and shall leave them there. 24 And he shall bathe his body in water in a holy place and put on his garments and come out and offer his burnt offering and the burnt offering of the people and make atonement for himself and for the people. 25 And the fat of the sin offering he shall burn on the altar. 26 And he who lets the goat go to Azazel shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. 27 And the bull for the sin offering and the goat for the sin offering, whose blood was brought in to make atonement in the Holy Place, shall be carried outside the camp. Their skin and their flesh and their dung shall be burned up with fire. 28 And he who burns them shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp.
29 “And it shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict yourselves and shall do no work, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you. 30 For on this day shall atonement be made for you to cleanse you. You shall be clean before the Lord from all your sins. 31 It is a Sabbath of solemn rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves; it is a statute forever. 32 And the priest who is anointed and consecrated as priest in his father’s place shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments. 33 He shall make atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make atonement for the tent of meeting and for the altar, and he shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly. 34 And this shall be a statute forever for you, that atonement may be made for the people of Israel once in the year because of all their sins.” And Moses did as the Lord commanded him. (ESV)
22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (ESV)
11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (ESV)
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (ESV)
10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. (ESV)
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (ESV)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. (ESV)
5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)
21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)
26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (ESV)
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (ESV)
3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (ESV)
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)
12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (ESV)
31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (ESV)