Hot cross buns have been toasted and eaten. The church service was amazing – there was a goat and it peed in the aisle (more on the goat later). Across the country, many are celebrating Good Friday. As Christians we remember that Jesus Christ died a horrible death by crucifixion. Doesn’t sound good does it?
When I used to work at the the Co-op, one of my colleagues and I were chatting about Easter. He seemed quite open to chat about Jesus, but he couldn’t understand why Jesus had to die on the cross. When it comes to the crucifixion, I think it can baffle, confuse and alarm most of us. How can we possibly call it good?
As I look at the cross and think about the best way to explain the ‘good’ in Good Friday, I have to be honest. Today, I am not feeling good. However, as I look at the cross I am reminded that there is hope and good news, even when things seem like they are falling apart.
Last week it was Palm Sunday when we remembered Jesus entering Jerusalem riding a colt and being welcomed and celebrated with shouts of praise. It’s hard to believe that in a few short days he was betrayed by one of his closest followers, handed over to be flogged, beaten and then left to die. His followers must have looked on in disbelief, fear and at an absolute loss at the one whom they thought to be the Messiah – the anointed one, the promised King and the Saviour of the people now hanging in agony before their eyes. The death of Jesus didn’t look victorious from where the disciples stood – it looked like defeat. Yet, the cross of Jesus was where sin and death were defeated.
And now we return to the goat. I thank Reverend Ed Hobbs on the following illustration which I will borrow!
Have you heard of the word scapegoat? It is defined as ‘a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.’
In the Old Testament, a priest would lay his hands on the head of the goat symbolically placing the sins of the people upon it before sending it out into the wilderness. The sins would then be carried far away from the community.
Jesus is like the goat. He took the sins of the whole world upon Himself and has cast our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). He took the blame and we go free. He paid the price so we don’t have to.
He is also known as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He was the perfect, blameless Son of God. Only He could wipe away our sins and forgive us. It is our sin that separates us from God. There is no amount of good we can do that will make us right with God – that is why Jesus came.
Good Friday is ‘good’ because we are no longer separated from God – we are forgiven. If we come to God with a sincere, repentant heart and acknowledge our need for Him, He will never turn us away. He loves us and the cross is God showing His love for us. Sin deserves eternal death and separation from a holy God but we have been set free from sin and can have eternal life because Jesus took our place.
This is good news! Today we remember that sacrifice. Maybe let today be the day that you turn to God for the first time knowing that you have been set free in Jesus.