As the soldiers led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then
“‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!”
and to the hills, “Cover us!”’
For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”
There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
- Luke 23:26-43
“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superﬂuous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing — or should we say ‘seeing’? there are are no tenses in God—the buzzing cloud of ﬂies about the cross, the ﬂayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”
- C. S. Lewis, Four Loves
As I wrote yesterday, agreeing with C. S. Lewis, we have the advantage of knowing that Good Friday is indeed a good Friday. When I was growing up, I could not imagine, and often asked the question just to get venom tossed back at me. “Why is Good Friday good when we are remembering about the worst thing on earth that could happen?”
If we do not see the suffering of Jesus… If we only see our sins nailed to the tree, it seems rather good.
But we cannot separate the two. To have our sins nailed to the cross, Jesus had to bear our sins. Jesus had to suffer and die because we have been naughty. We have rebelled against God. We have gone our own way.
But if we repent, that is to turn around from our wrongful direction, and go toward God, we will be saved if we then belief and trust in Jesus. After all, He paid the price for us.
One night with insomnia, when I was a born-again teenager, I finally got to sleep. My Dad must have been watching or heard me walking around in my room. He asked me if I got any sleep.
I told him that I finally laid in bed and stared at the ceiling. In my mind, I saw a blood-drenched face from the crown of thorns and Jesus said, ‘I paid the price for you.’ I told my Dad that I went right to sleep after seeing that.
My Dad got very angry. He talked about how we worshipped a risen Savior. He said it was sinful to imagine Jesus on the cross. He then said very derogatory things about the Catholic church, maybe many that were just rumors. I have no idea if he had ever met a Catholic at that point in his life.
But in our zeal to “correct” the image on the cross, we leave the cross empty, signifying that the Christ has risen. But we cannot forget that He was once hanging there. We cannot forget the torture and torment that He went through on our behalf.
Yes, the cross is empty because Jesus rose from the dead, but Jesus dying on that cross paid the price for my sins and yours if you believe and trust in Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.