From Liz Groman
(Opportunities Pastor)

On Good Friday

John 3:15-16 PHILLIPS The Son of Man must be lifted above the heads of men—as Moses lifted up that serpent in the desert—so that any man who believes in him may have eternal life. For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that every one who believes in him shall not be lost, but should have eternal life.

Hebrews 12:1-3 PHILLIPS Surrounded then as we are by these serried ranks of witnesses, let us strip off everything that hinders us, as well as the sin which dogs our feet, and let us run the race that we have to run with patience, our eyes fixed on Jesus the source and the goal of our faith. For he himself endured a cross and thought nothing of its shame because of the joy he knew would follow his suffering; and he is now seated at the right hand of God’s throne. Think constantly of him enduring all that sinful men could say against him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage.

As I sit here on Good Friday, I consider the Cross – its excruciating torture, why it was made the price, how it impacted those who were there, the commitment of Christ to finish the requirements of the plan to redeem us. So many questions!

For example, a marketing question - why would God follow up all the miracles with the most shameful and degrading of public deaths? Now, the disciples were asking Gentiles and Jews alike to believe in and commit to a crucified/disgraced Messiah. It was a bad enough public image and hurdle to overcome for Jews that He was portrayed as a blasphemer by the religious leadership and for Gentiles that He was considered a criminal or insurrectionist by the Romans. On top of this, His disciples were handed the Cross as the symbol of redemption, the door into relationship with God. “...the message of salvation through faith in a crucified Savior was deemed “foolishness” and a “stumbling-block” because the cross was itself the embodiment and emblem of the most hideous of human obscenities. The cross was a symbol of reproach, degradation, humiliation, and disgust. It was aesthetically repugnant. In a word, the cross was obscene.” ( Marketing teams would be playing down the Cross, not advertising it!

Another question – did He really mean everyone who believes? Does His love and forgiveness really extend to include all? If so, He died for Pontius Pilate and his soldiers, for the religious leaders who plotted and executed His murder, for the mockers who spit on Him, for the man who held the whip in his hands, for the man who drove the nails in His hands and for the thief who received mercy as well as the one who rejected it! Does He mean to extend forgiveness today to the murderer, the abortionist, the child molestor, the abusive spouse, the racist, the terrorist? Was the redemption of such as these part of th?e joy He knew would follow His suffering on the Cross? Honestly, was I any “cleaner” than the worst of these when I embraced His sacrifice?

One more question to which I don’t have an answer – why was this determined as the price to redeem mankind? Satan would want to inflict as much pain on God as possible; did he set the price thinking it was too high or too unreasonable for God to pay? Did God set the price knowing that He was giving out of love for us His most precious & priceless, paying the highest price possible that there could never be any question after about “it is finished”? I can sense Satan’s influence in using the most excruciating, shameful and public death to wound God’s heart, but I can also see God’s influence in the love, mercy and forgiveness Jesus extended throughout His crucifixion journey. And then, the resurrection!

Lord, I pray that You will work Your love, mercy and grace in me so that I, too, can look past my current circumstances, my difficult times, my struggles, to be a faithful servant in them all because I see the same joy set before me. Just as the Cross was changed into a symbol of love, redemption, hope, grace and victory, help me to allow faith, love and grace to convert my fears, failures, shame and regret into gratitude, love, grace and boldness for seeing that redemption work in every and any one. My desire is to “Think constantly of Him enduring all that sinful men could say against Him and you will not lose your purpose or your courage.” Make it so in the name of Jesus.