Is Good Friday really a good day?

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Next week, many of the churches of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows will be joining together in five locations to celebrate Good Friday.

It’s reasonable to ask, why celebrate the death of your hero?, and, why call the day of that death good?

It certainly wasn’t a TGIF moment for Jesus, or for his disciples for that matter.

They had great expectations for their Messiah, but a demoralizing death on a criminal’s cross was not one of them.

It’s difficult for us today in our comfortable western world to even imagine the sense of loss and defeat suffered by his followers on that black Friday.

Watching our beloved Canucks lose out in the first round of the playoffs, as devastating as that would be, doesn’t come close to the despair felt by these disillusioned disciples.

They had given up everything to follow the man they thought was the Promised One.  They firmly believed he was the Messiah, the one who would free them from the oppressive Roman regime.

To see him die at the hands of the Roman governor and his soldiers not only crushed their dreams, it sent them running for their lives.

And yet, had they’d only been listening, they would have heard Jesus predict his inevitable death.

Matthew tells us that just before the Passion Week: “Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21).

Going back even further, many of the 300-plus prophecies Jesus fulfilled promised a Messiah who would lay down his life for us: “He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!  But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed!  All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all” (Isaiah 53:3-6).

Jesus knew that 700-year-old prophecy was about him when he said: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Jesus did not come to free one nation from political bondage; he came to purchase personal freedom for all people for all time, and the cost was his life.

That is a good Shepherd, a good God, very good news, and a good reason to remember his sacrifice on Good Friday.

 

Rob Buzza is lead pastor

at NorthRidge Church.