April 15 – Easter Week – Good Friday

Editor:  This week is Easter Week, also called Passion Week and Holy Week.  During each day this week, Every Day with God will focus on some of the events involving Jesus on the different days of this week, which ultimately led to His death and resurrection. 

Read Mark 15:21-40

On Good Friday, Jesus was crucified on Golgotha, which means the Place of the Skull (Mark 15:22) The sky turned dark for three hours (Mark 15:33). Jesus cried, “Father! Into your hands I commit my spirit!” and He died (Luke 23:46).

But why did Jesus have to die?

From a human perspective, the Jewish leaders plotted against him, Judas betrayed Him, Herod and Pilate tried Him, and the Roman soldiers executed Him. As Luke puts it, “Wicked men put him to death by nailing him to the cross” (Acts 2:23).

But Acts 2:23 says, Jesus was “handed over by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge.” To understand the death of Christ, we have to understand that He died for two main reasons:

1. Jesus Died to Bring Us Near to God.

The Apostle Paul declares: “You who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:13).  All humans stand condemned before God. Our sins separate us from Him whose character is holy and perfect.  

By shedding His blood on the cross, Jesus took the punishment we deserve and offered us His righteousness. He died for us…. in our place.  To bring us near to God, “Christ died for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Pet. 3:18). If “the unrighteous” is all of us, “the righteous” is Jesus Himself.

When we trust Christ for our salvation, we are making a trade. By faith, we trade our sin and its death penalty for His righteousness and life. This is called the “substitutionary atonement.”

Christ died on the cross as our substitute. Without Him, we would suffer the death penalty for our own sins. “He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

The writer to the Hebrews puts it another way: “And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).

Some object, “Shedding blood seems so barbaric. Is it really necessary? Why doesn’t God simply forgive us?” Because God is holy, He must judge sin.  At the cross, God poured out His judgment on His Son, satisfying His own wrath and making it possible for Him to forgive us.

But there’s even more…

2. Jesus Died to Reveal God’s Infinite Love.

God reveals His majesty and power in creation.  His promises to Abraham show His concern for the whole world. But at the cross, we witness the final and dramatic proof of His love and justice.

Romans makes this clear: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Christ’s death puts beyond all doubt the fact that God loves us.

God doesn’t forgive us by turning a blind eye to our sin or by overlooking it. Forgiveness is costly. At the cross we see not only God’s love, but also the seriousness with which He takes our sin.

Where would we be if God had not sent His Son to die for us? Without the cross, we’d be “darkened in our understanding of God and alienated from the life of God” (Eph. 4:18).

The death of Jesus simply changes everything. I pray each of us will join Paul in saying, “I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14).

Bob Fetterhoff

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