Jesus’ entrance into the world was rather low-key. His birth went unnoticed by all except a few shepherds. He was born in a barn, not in a palace; of humble parents, not the elites. Most of his life was spent in quiet obscurity in a small village in Galilee. Then he went on the road, and began to attract quite a bit of attention.
Hope in Jesus
The common people loved him – they saw hope in his message, and compassion in his actions. They even wanted to make him king after he miraculously fed the 5,000 with a few loaves and some fish. It is understandable that the people wanted to make this miracle-worker their king. After all, they were terribly oppressed, both by the Romans and their own religious leaders. In Jesus they saw a glimmer of hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. Most of them had lost their land and were now sharecroppers on the farms their ancestors once owned. They were overtaxed, in debt, ruled by a foreign power, mistreated by their own leaders, and were in desperate need of relief.
So we can understand why the people yearned for king who would restore them – and provide food as well! Of course Jesus was already a king, just not the kind of king the people were expecting. When Pilate asked him if he was the King of the Jews, Jesus replied (John 18:36-38a):
“My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.”
Pilate said, “So you are a king?”
Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.”
“What is truth?” Pilate asked. NLT
Many of us can appreciate why the people were looking for relief. We may feel hopeless and fearful as we look into a questionable future. Will I still have a job? Will we lose our medical benefits? Will I be able to make the mortgage payments? Will my vehicle be repossessed? Will I have enough money to retire on?
These are troubled times, and now, more than ever, we need Jesus in our lives. We need Jesus, not on the periphery, but at the center of our lives, which is where he belongs. If we do that, will Jesus make sure we keep our job, make the mortgage payments, or give us enough money to retire on?
Maybe, maybe not. But even if he doesn’t do those things, there are still significant advantages to having a relationship with Jesus. Many of those advantages are spiritual, and spiritual things last into eternity, while the things of this world are temporary. Through faith in Jesus we have eternal life, meaning we spend eternity with God in heaven, which will certainly be a lot better than life on earth. Another advantage is that we have the Holy Spirit to help us, guide us, comfort us, and give us peace while we are on this imperfect planet. We can boldly approach the throne of God, and God will listen to us, and give us answers.
We have these privileges because of what happened on Good Friday – Jesus died so that we might live. Jesus’ death opened the door for us to have a relationship with God. Why does his death open that door? Because of his death, our sins are forgiven and forgotten, and we are declared righteous before Almighty God. Since we have been declared righteous because of our faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross, we can have fellowship with God.
Without the Cross, the door to a relationship with God would be closed. As followers of Jesus we now have nothing to fear from death, because we know what’s in store for us on the other side – heaven. In addition, we are freed from slavery to sin, because those things we used to do no longer have the appeal they once did.
So that’s why it’s called “Good” Friday – because much good came out of what appeared to be a tragic situation, a miscarriage of justice. What appeared to be a gross injustice resulted in God’s justice being satisfied. How was God’s justice satisfied? God’s justice was satisfied the only way it could be, by Jesus’ sacrifice. This was God’s plan from the beginning, which we see in such Old Testament prophecies as Isaiah 53.
On Good Friday, the righteous died for the unrighteous, the innocent for the guilty. This was the reason Jesus came to earth, and this was the reason Jesus allowed himself to be arrested, tortured, and killed by evil men. Only the Son of God was an adequate sacrifice, once for all, to satisfy God’s need for justice regarding the sins of the world. By his death, he replaced the temporary sacrificial system based on the law with a New Covenant based on grace through faith.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9, NRSV)
Now there are no barriers between God and us – all we have to do is believe that Christ died for our sins and accept that gift of eternal life. When we consciously do that, we have made Jesus our Savior, placing our full trust in what he did on that cross on a bleak Friday in Jerusalem.
As I said earlier, the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life was rather low-key. The end, however, was pretty spectacular. It wasn’t really the end, but rather a new beginning. Sinful men put him to death, but he overcame the cold grip of death and rose from the dead that glorious Sunday.
“Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes!”
Forty days later he ascended bodily into heaven, where he sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us as our High Priest. After the darkness of Friday came the bright new dawn of Sunday. Yet without Good Friday there could not have been a Resurrection. Without Good Friday, there could not have been forgiveness of sins. Without Good Friday, God’s plan for the human race would not have been fulfilled, and we’d all still be separated from God – dead in our sins.
Similarly, it may seem like Friday for us these days, but have faith – Sunday’s coming! Things may seem gloomy right now, but have faith – Sunday’s coming! We may be going through some tough times, but when we come out of them, we will be stronger and better, so have faith – Sunday’s coming! So let us keep in mind the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.