Anyone who happened to stand upon the hill of Golgotha outside of Jerusalem the day Jesus died would have heard the pained curses of a couple of dying thieves (until one turned his curses to a plea for Jesus’ mercy). They would have heard the rude insults of the crowd. They would have heard the agonized cries of the thieves, and the labored breathing of Jesus. They would have smelled the stink of tortured and dying men hanging on three crosses. They would have seen the horrible sight of blood dripping from holes in the condemned men’s wrists and feet. They would have seen men in terrible pain straining to lift their chests to gain each breath of life.
But if those gathered on that ugly hill that day had listened more carefully and looked more closely they would have sensed something else as well. They would have heard Jesus’ tender words of forgiveness toward those who condemned Him, toward those who mocked Him, toward those who drove nails into His wrists and feet, and toward us. They would have heard His message of hope, promising one of the thieves beside Him a new home in heaven that very day. They would have seen the compassion He showed His mother and the disciple John, while even in deep pain and struggling for every breath He took, He instructed them to care for each other. They would have sensed, even in the midst of ugly injustice, insults, rejection, and condemnation, beautiful love oozing from the One who gave His life for us.
Something even as hateful and disgusting as the cross reveals the enormity of God’s love, for Jesus held nothing back but gave His all for us!
What can this mean to us?
Ann Cetas observes, “My circumstances aren’t a measure of God’s love and goodness; the cross is!”
The cross is God’s guarantee to us that no matter what our circumstances may be, and no matter what others may think of us or how we may feel about ourselves, Jesus loves us enough to have laid down His life for us!
Frederick Buechner points out, “Christianity…ultimately offers no theoretical solution [to the problem of evil]…. It merely points to the cross and says that, practically speaking, there is no evil so dark and so obscene—not even this—but that God can turn it to good.”
No wonder Christians refer to the day Jesus died as “Good Friday!” It may not have looked good at the moment, but it certainly proved to be incredibly good for us!
— Tom Tripp is the Pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Colusa. Pastor Tripp can be reached by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org