What's So Good About Good Friday?

"And it was now about the sixth hour, and darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour, the sun being obscured; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. And Jesus crying out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.' And having said this, He breathed His last." Luke 23:44-46

From 1980-1983 I served at First Baptist Church of Houston as Minister to Single Adults. Every Friday night we held a Single Adult worship service in the chapel of the church. called
"Single Hearted" It was a regular gathering of Single Adults from all over Houston, and a great alternative to what was being offered on Friday nights. by the Urban Cowboy scene in the city. One night back in 1981, I was catching a ride home with Russ Barksdale, and he popped in a casette tape of a guy named Tony Compolo. He told a story of a preacher he had heard bring a Good Friday message entitled, "It's Friday! Sunday's A Comin' !" He attempted to present the message that he had heard, and even with his second hand effort it was a powerful presentation. It began slowly with a litany of woes that unfolded on the day of the crucifixion, and ended with a crescendo of hope rising above the chaos of Calvary. By the time the tape was over, Barksdale and I were shouting, pounding the dashboard, and perspiring with exhaustion at the exhilaration we received from the truth poured out on us by this obscure professor from Pennyslvania. WOW! I still get a charge out of remembering the first time I heard Compolo deliver that message. It reminds me that things are not always as they seem. When things look their worst, God is often up to His best.

Luke's account of Good Friday is short, but it is not sweet. Rarely in the scope of human language has so much significance been contained within the confines of such a brief phrase. It reveals a cosmic stuggle of epic proportion and all the action is exploding on the scene at once. From the "Holy of Holies" of the Temple mount to the top of Calvary's hill, God is moving to bring about the greatest transfer of debt in the history of the world. Sinful people owe more than they can ever pay back, and God has provided a way for the debt to be removed from their account.

All of the sins of mankind are being placed on the account of the Lamb of God, and He will blot out the stain of debt that is owed. Only the blood of Jesus will satisfy the requirement of the character of God. The separation of sin must be dealt with in order for the barrier between God and man to be removed. Only the spotless Son of God can take away the sin of the world, and build a bridge between the two separated parties. God's character does not allow Him to have fellowship with sin, and the consequence of the divine Law cannot be ignored.

The sun is obscured. The sky is dark, and the veil is torn. The cross has done its worst while God has been up to His best. When Jesus takes His last breath there will no longer be a separation between man and God that only an earthly high priest can mediate once a year. Jesus will take that mantle onto His shoulders. On the cross, he will pay the ultimate price to make it possible for the priesthood of the believer to be sustained by intimate personal, private, prolonged, and prayerful conversation between the Heavenly Father and His children.

A brief reading of this passage does not reveal much good about Good Friday. At first glance, God does not seem to be in control. Chaos is everywhere. Weather is threatening. Traditions are being disrupted. An innocent man is being executed. Death and destruction have taken the high ground and God appears to be on the run.

Later in Luke's account, when we find the disciples trying to process what happened on that day, we find them hiding in fear for their lives, or retreating from the scene of the battle. By Sunday, two disciples were on the Road to Emmaus and were trying to make sense of what they had seen the past three days. Luke's account says, "They were conversing and discussing about all these things which had taken place. And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus approached, and began traveling with them." (Luke 24:13-14)

They had been so consumed with the bad things that they had seen, they could tell when Jesus came into the picture. "And He said to them, 'What are these words that you are exchanging with one another while you are walking?" (Luke 24:17)

The Scripture informs us that the disciples were full of sadness, and short on insight, but that one of them had sarcasm to spare. He said to Jesus, "Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things that have been happening here in these days?"(Luke 14:18)

The response of Jesus to this question is a precious key that will unlock the door of doubt and allow to the discouraged. His next two words are an invitation for them to drop their disappointment into His hands, and to discover the GOOD about this GOOD FRIDAY. The next two words are perhaps the greatest invitation to prayer that has ever been recorded. "And He said to them, 'What things?' " (Luke 24:19)

What Jesus did for these two disciples was to offer His assistance. He eventually would take the blinders off of their eyes and reveal what God had been doing in the middle of all the chaos around them. He first offered His Presence, and then He pointed them to God's Word. He spent as much time with them as they wanted to spend with Him. The Scripture says that while He was praying the recognized who Jesus was, and then he left them. They were so filled with hope that they returned to the city of Jerusalem and delivered insight and encouragement to the disciples who were hiding in fear. All of this was a result of answering the question of Jesus.

Contemporary disciples would be served well by answering the two word question of Jesus, "What things." Whenever immediate circumstances cloud the vision of a believer, and it appears that God is not in control, Jesus still invites people to let Him make sense out of their confusion. Life is filled with challenges that cause Christ followers to still ask, "What's good about Good Friday?" When events come crashing in on life, and do not make sense to us, only Jesus can make sense out of the senseless. He still invites the discouraged and downhearted to look to Him and respond to His two word request, and unload their doubt to discover His deliverance.