There’s no day on the Church Calendar more significant than Good Friday, the day on which we remember Christ’s passion on the cross. It is this event, which took place almost 2,000 years ago, that makes the world makes sense. Without this event, the world would have no hope, and humanity would have no solace. One cannot meditate on Christ’s passion too much, as it is the source of all spiritual strength.
It is ironic that the gruesome death of a man would be God’s means of bringing life to the world. It illustrates the fact that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor his ways our ways. The strength that we need to die to sin and live to God comes from the blood of Christ, shed on our behalf. The cleansing that we need in order to stand before God on judgment day, cleansed of our sin and righteous in God’s sight, comes from the blood of Christ shed on our behalf. He is the atoning sacrifice for us—by his death, God’s wrath against us has been pacified. Christ, our Substitute, turns God’s wrath away from us. As Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, everyone to his own way, and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
When we see Christ bleeding on the cross, we see God’s attitude towards sin. It should have been our backs ripped open with Roman whips; it should have been our heads pierced with thorny crowns. It should have been our wrists and feet that were nailed to a rugged cross. It should have been our voices calling out despairingly, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When we see the Man of Sorrows, wounded beyond recognition, we see how God naturally feels about our disobedience.
If we want to learn to take sin seriously, we must begin by looking at the cross. The author of Hebrews gravely warns us that whenever we spurn God’s will, whenever we treat his commands as though they were optional, whenever we replace God’s desire for our lives with our own desires, we are “re-crucifying” the Son of God. When we habitually persist in sin, we are treating the cross of the Lord as though it were a trivial thing.
The New Testament says that Christ bought us with his blood, meaning that our souls and bodies no longer belong to ourselves—we belong, in our entirety, to Christ. No matter what spiritual ailment or battle one is facing, the prescription for healing is the same: the blood of Christ. Let us not attempt to be smarter than God, thinking we can come up with a superior medicine.
“There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel’s veins
And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains
The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day
And there may I, though vile as he, wash all my sins away
Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed
God be saved to sin no more”—William Cowper
Read “Christ Yields Up His Spirit”, a Good Friday sermon preached by Dr. Ligon Duncan, pastor of
Jackson’s First Presbyterian Church. The sermon was based on Matthew 27:50-56.