Read Mark 15:1-47
The event of this day in Jesus' life cannot be overstated. Simply put Jesus died in one of the most horrific methods of human torture ever devised. Certainly his death was the culmination of the day, but each step along the way demonstrates the depths and extent of his sacrifice and love for his people. Each action of Christ on this day demonstrates the way he stood in our place to receive what we deserve. It shows us the incredible ways his sacrifice for us is a gift for us in everything we need. Good Friday displays the "Great Exchange" of the King for us.
1. Denied Justice So We Could Be Justified
Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus' Friday essentially began in the courts. Be it the court of the Sanhedrin or before the seat of justice with Pilate. In every instance Jesus was denied the justice due him. Even as a committed murder was brought up against Jesus, the murderer went free. Justice was denied Jesus as every turn. False witnesses, enraged mobs, scheming leadership all were at work against the justice that Jesus deserved.
He stood in our place to give us justice. By his being denied justice he was able to provide for all who trust in him perfect justice. He stands in our place to make us righteous and perfect before the Father.
2. Denied Dignity So We Could Be Dignified
Mockery, nakedness, rebuke, insults and shame were all hurled at Jesus as he bore his cross to Calvary. Thieves suffering on their own crosses for their crimes even reviled and mocked him. Furthermore, there was nothing dignifying about the crucifixion. Victims were often stripped bare of their clothing. The torture of the cross caused sufferers to lose all control of bodily functions. Every ounce of dignity that was due the Son of God was stolen.
Why? So that you and I could be given dignity. The cross of Christ purchased for his children an identity as sons and daughters of the King. We are just given a clean slate. We are given an entirely new reality. We are no longer enemies, strangers, and objects of wrath. We are loved, adopted, friends, and co-heirs. The dignity that was due Jesus was taken. He gave it up so that we could be given a dignity far beyond just "creatures."
3. Denied Life So We Could Be Made Alive
Crucifixion robs a life slowly, painfully, exhaustingly. The victims were impaled through their hands and feet, but this wasn't a fatal blow. Their bodies hung upon a suspended plank of wood with their arm often pulled out of socket. They were forced to try and lift themselves up for a gasp of air, all the while their bare back scrapped against the raw, splintered wood of their cross. Each nerve in their arms and feet shot out pain as they moved up and down to breathe. Crucifixion was a slow, terrible way to die.
As Jesus' every breath was taken, every breath given up to his final breath he was purchasing life for his people. The King, the creator of life, was exhausting his to fill up life for his children. We are given life by the one who laid down his own. The King died so we might have life.
4. Denied Glory So We Could Be Glorified
For some, death brings glory. Tributes are brought, memorials built, crowds gather to remember and venerate the fallen person. But for Jesus there was no memorial tribute. There was no memorial built. He didn't even have a mausoleum in which to be enshrined. For Jesus in his death there was no glory. If it weren't for the backdoor compassion of a distant follower working to get the release of Jesus' body and place it in his own tomb Jesus would have found his body piled among the garbage and refuge of the city in a mass grave where the birds and beasts could pick apart his flesh. Glory was denied him even in death.
Yet his death purchased glory for us. It purchased a promise and a future where all who would turn from their sin and follow him by faith alone would find themselves given glory. It is a glory far greater than we can achieve or earn in anyway for ourselves. It is the glory of being made in the image of Christ, of being transformed as new creations, of becoming fully Christ-like. Jesus' glory was denied him, so that we might be given glory as his children.
Good Friday is about an exchange. His justice for our injustice. His dignity for our shame. His life for our death. His glory for our depravity. The death of Jesus on a Friday reminds us that we have everything good in our substituting, saving King. Good was found on a Friday that was anything but good for Jesus.