by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
This is the God of the gospel of grace. A God, who out of love for us, sent the only Son He ever had wrapped in our skin. He learned how to walk, stumbled and fell, cried for His milk, sweated blood in the night, was lashed with a whip and showered with spit, was fixed to a cross and died whispering forgiveness on us all. ~ Brennan Manning
It is Good Friday, a day when Christians around the world pause, reflecting on the cross. I love this day, as I not only see it as the anniversary of my redemption, but also as the display of a love so great that the world still cannot understand it. It marks the day that Love died for us, because we were too precious to live without. The Bible frames Good Friday as the day that “God demonstrated His own love for love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
For this reason, I am fascinated by the crucifixion. Not just the cross, but everything leading up to it. Personally, I believe this day denotes when God experienced in the physical everything we had done to Him in the Spiritual since the Garden. For example, coming in to Jerusalem to adoration by the masses one day, to chants of ‘Crucify Him’ the next reminds me of a couple of naked prototypes loving the Father’s company one moment, eating forbidden fruit, hiding and blaming the next. After that the Old Testament is full of times when people denied God and his rule, metaphorically spitting in His face. Jesus bore it out in the physical, but seriously, haven’t we been doing that to God since the beginning?
It says in Isaiah 52:14 that by the time they were done with Jesus that “his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.” Maybe that is because after sin got ahold of us in the garden, we looked nothing like what God had intended His children to look like. He was marred so we could walk in the Father’s glory again.
Isaiah 53 says he was rejected and despised and a man of sorrows. I used to read that and think that Jesus had depression issues, but now I realize that the sorrows He had in that moment, the rejection, all of it, belonged to me! It belonged to you. He had and became those things so we could be free of them. Moreover, He was rejected and despised by men so we could be received and doted upon by the Father. This moment in history is where we ‘traded our sorrows,’ as we are so fond of singing. It was a literal trade. Knowing this is crucial to living in it. God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Maybe it would behoove us to have knowledge on the most important event in history.
The crown of thorns; as a counselor I am especially aware of what they represent. Thorns were mentioned way back in the Garden as part of the curse. Worry and toil and thistles and thorns. He wore that curse, literally shoved in to His head. That means that your worries, the fears over not having enough, the day to day stressors, they were shoved on His head, and he bore them, so you and I can have peace of mind.
The choosing of Barabbas to live and Jesus to die…what a moment in this saga! Had I been Jesus, this is the moment I would have called the legion of angels and walked away from the human race. The ultimate insult. Barabbas was a scumbag and a terrorist. A murderer and a thief. He deserved to die, Jesus did not. Are you sensing another parallel? If so, you would be correct. Barabbas, in Hebrew, means ‘Son of the Father.’ This is where God literally traded one Son for another. The Son of God was traded for the lost sons…was traded for us. We are Barabbas. By the breaking of God’s law we, humanity, were murdering thieves deserving of death. We went free and Jesus went to the cross.
And what is the significance of the cross? I have spent a lot of time thinking about His love for us and the cross, and just what the cross means to us. I know that in the Bible God refers to us, humanity, as trees. There are scriptures that tell us that when we trust in the Lord we are trees with deep roots, the New Testament refers to us as fruit bearing trees, and the book of Isaiah calls us believers Oaks of Righteousness. So if we are considered trees, then what is the significance of Christ being nailed to a tree? I think of the cross as us. We are that tree, and He chose to nail himself to us, to be affixed over us, His sinless blood pouring on to us, as He and the Father worked together to save us from sin. That is why we are engraved on the palms of His hands (Isaiah 49:16), because He nailed Himself to us. That is another thing I can’t get over. What kind of crazy love is that?
I will tell you what kind of Love that is…it is the kind that the grave cannot hold! It is the kind of love that gets up, bursts forth, and conquers sin and death for the object of it’s affection. That object of affection is us. It is you. Make it personal, because this thing that happened on that most horrific and wonderful day was all about you. He is so in love with you, and not in some creepy, cosmic-stalker kind of way, but in an ‘I want to live for you and in you so you will never again be alone’ kind of way. The bible says that the journey from non-believer to salvation is as easy as confessing with your mouth that Christ is Lord, and believing with your heart that God raised Him from the dead. So if you have never before experienced His life, I invite you to do so, and make this the greatest Friday in your life.