Today is Good Friday. It’s the day of rememberence and reflection of Jesus dying on the cross for the world. I believe it’s as important to know that He didn’t have to die as the fact that He actually did die.
At any moment, He could have changed the story. The soldiers taunted Him as he hung on the cross saying, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” Luke 23:35
Let there be no doubt
At any time, Jesus could have stopped it all.
Matthew 8:23-27 tells us the story of Jesus and the disciples out on a boat. Jesus took a nap as a storm rolled up. The disciples panicked and woke him, thinking they were on the verge of death. Jesus rose and rebuked the wind and immediately it was calm. (Matthew 8:27) “So the men marveled, saying, ‘Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”
Luke 19:39-40, as Jesus is coming into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with the crowd praising him, “And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But He answered and said to them, ‘I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”
Matthew 4 tells us about Jesus being tempted by Satan. Jesus was tempted three times by Satan, and each time He turned Satan away with the word of God. And at the end, “the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” (Matthew 4:11)
If the seas and the winds obey Him, if the stones would cry out to worship Him, if the angels ministered to Him, why would He die for you and me?
Where’s the cross?
We live in a very religious community. With very little thought, I can come up with ten churches within 5 miles of my house.
I knew I wanted to write this post today, and I knew I wanted a picture of a cross to go with it. Being Good Friday and in a religious community, you might think I could walk out my front door and find a cross. You’d be wrong.
The boys and I set out on an adventure today. They were so excited and asked what kind of adventure it was. I told them we were looking for a cross.
“What kind of cross?”
“The kind Jesus died on.”
Even though we’ve been talking about it, they didn’t really understand. They are my babies (even at four and six, they are babies in my heart) and I’ve protected them from death as much as I can. They know their great-grandma Aust is with Jesus, but they haven’t asked any hard questions so I haven’t given them any more details. They love adventures because adventures mean fun so we were off.
Exactly none of our local churches had a cross outside today, not the ones in town or in the country. We drove and drove and could not find a cross.
Finally I had an idea. There is a “mega” church that does a huge walk through Bethlehem for Christmas. Certainly they would have a cross for Easter. It was a few miles out of the way, but we were on an adventure. I pulled into their parking lot and no cross.
On the verge of giving up on our quest for the cross, I looked across the four lane highway. And there it was.
If I hadn’t looked up at just that moment, if I hadn’t pulled into that church parking lot, I would have missed it. Way in the back, meaning so much and looking like so little, was the cross we were looking for.
We drove across the road and pulled in. The boys still didn’t get it, just like most of the world. They were just on an adventure, searching for something that they didn’t understand. We parked and got out of the truck.
Way out of the way, there was a sidewalk leading up to the cross. We walked up to it. This ordinary cross in this ordinary field on this ordinary day took my breath away.
The boys didn’t understand what it meant or even what it was. How could they? They started asking questions. What was a cross? What did it have to do with Jesus?
And standing there it just all made sense. I told them about the nails used in His outstretched hands. I told them about the nails in His feet. Standing there at the cross, I was watching their faces as they both finally understood.
It was an amazing moment that I can’t properly put into words as at the same time a look of understanding crossed both their faces. This is why we had them; this is what we’re raising them towards. An understanding of the cross.
For a moment, the three of us stood there in silence, reflecting, staring at the cross.
Love is a choice
There is only one reason that Jesus willingly died on that cross and it’s love.
Jesus loves you and me and everyone before and after us. There were so many opportunities for the story to change. So many chances for Jesus to just go back to Heaven and leave us all to our wicked ways, but He didn’t.
Just before His arrest, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives and prayed for what was about to transpire “saying, ‘Father, if it is Your will, take this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.'” (Luke 22:42)
And because of God’s great love for us, He did not take that cup from Jesus.
Jesus was arrest, found guilty of nothing, and still was convicted. The people cried out for his death. He was beaten. He was mocked. He was forced to carry the cross (for us) until He fell under the weight of our sin. He was nailed to the cross.
And hanging there on that cross, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Even on the cross, He thought not of Himself but for those that He was hanging there for.
That day, that cross
When I think of that day, it’s a day unlike today. Today was warm. The sun was shining. The birds were singing.
That day on Calvary I imagine to be much different.
I imagine it to be dark, as if the sun couldn’t bear to shine. I imagine the birds are silent as they mourn the death of our King. I imagine it cold and dreary, without hope, as the Son of God hangs on that tree. I imagine a silent Heaven as the angels wish to swoop down and end His suffering. And I imagine a God heartbroken at the pain and proud of the strength as His Son gives up His life for you and me.
And as dark and dreary as I imagine that day to have been, the sunshine seemed fitting today. It serves as a reminder of the amazing and wondrous thing that happened just three days later.
The Heavens rejoiced. The world sang out. Jesus conquered death so that we may live forever with Him.
As dark as that day was, today my Savior lives. And soon He is coming to take me home.