At about three o’clock, Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 NLT
How could something as terrible as the crucifixion–the cruelest means of death around–be so good?
Christians celebrate the Friday before Easter Sunday as Good Friday. The day Jesus was crucified for supposedly claiming to be a rival king. Jealousy was the real reason. Religious leaders who refused to believe He was God’s Messiah, and who were upset that many of their followers were following Jesus instead, trumped up charges against Him and forced the Roman governor’s hand. With Rome’s permission, nothing stood in their way of having Jesus crucified and out of their hair once and for all.
A dainty picture of Jesus cleanly hanging on the cross hardly mirrors how He actually looked after the beating, mocking, and crown of thorns He received. Add to this the nails through His hands and feet, the shame of hanging almost naked before passerby’s, and the pain of trying to breathe while hanging suspended in mid-air, and we can only imagine the pain He endured.
Just before His death, Jesus asked His heavenly Father why He had forsaken Him. No answer flowed from heaven, but the entire message of the Bible tells us why. Jesus’ pain was more than from the agony of the crucifixion. His true pain came because He was paying for the sins of all humanity. In a brief moment, He endured what He never had before: a turning away by His Father.
God is holy, and in the moment Jesus’ payment was made, God had to look away. But God’s turning away from sin made it possible for Him to turn toward humanity. Now He could view them through the perfect sacrifice of His Son.
Jesus’ payment on Calvary on Good Friday makes it possible to change life situations. We come into the world as sinners, but through faith in Christ we can change positions. Saint is the biblical word. Though we’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, we can live with victory over sin and our arch enemy who seeks nothing more than to kill, steal, and destroy.
Good Friday is good because forgiveness is always good news. Resurrection Sunday is even better. An empty grave testifies that the Father accepted the Son’s sacrifice.