A Cheapened Crucifixion

“The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful than we will ever be able to comprehend.” – A. W. Tozer

“The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” – C. S. Lewis

“It is finished.” – Jesus speaking prior to His death in John 19:30

Easter is naturally a season filled with joy – such overwhelming joy that we often give little time, contemplation, and serious adoration for the death of our Lord.  Good Friday tends to be forgotten.  I guess none of us like to think about death – especially a gruesome one.  Not only do we hurry past it during the Easter season, often we discount it every day in a way that cheapens and diminishes its role in our lives and its impact on the destiny of humanity.

I attended a small Lutheran parochial school growing up.  Easter Day was such a joyful celebration.  The children’s choir often sang at all three services that day, but I particularly remember the sunrise service.  The sound of trumpets would fill the church – decorated with Easter lilies and white cloth to represent the rebirth of a new life found it the resurrected Christ.  All the songs were filled with shouts of happiness in the risen Savior!  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

Good Friday services were always sorrowful – the church decorated in black.  Held during the hours Christ hung on the cross, there were few hymns sung.  The church members were asked to remain silent during and after the services – not lingering to chat with family or friends.  I remember how all the candles were extinguished – the alter covered in black cloth.  Scripture verses that recanted the last words of Christ were often read.

I just remember it was quick and often sad.  I don’t ever remember seriously contemplating it or discussing the depth and essence of such a profound death – only learning to be sad and sorrowful as it lingered until Easter Sunday.

But there is a problem with that my friends.  In fact, I wonder how many of us sat today and thought about the significance of a death that represents tremendous sacrifice, unfathomable love, the deepest declaration of grace found anywhere in this world, and an atonement that is all-encompassing – beyond human capability to impact or influence.  We think we are being sadly reverent by quickly passing it by in silence, but there is an element of adoration and celebration that should accompany the Crucifixion lest we cheapen it and discount it in a way that misses its impact entirely.

As an example, think about the weightiness of a sacrifice that covers the world – not just a select few (John 3:16).  It is why any one and any number of individuals worldwide can come to Christ at any time with absolutely no barrier or exclusion based on the type of person they are or how gravely they have sinned.  The sacrifice has tremendous depth of coverage – one that cannot be humanly fathomed.  Think of the divine omniscience needed to fully know all those individuals with intimate detail and a sacrifice that was commensurable enough to cover every thought, deed, and action.

Think of the depth of the love needed to make such a sacrifice.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.  For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.“ – Romans 5: 6-8 NKJV

It is one thing to die for someone deserving, but it is quite another thing all together to die for someone who least deserves it.  This kind of love is beyond understanding! 

Too often we run past the death of Good Friday toward the wonderful Easter resurrection and miss the tremendous love being poured out to everyone in such a sacrifice.

“Surely, He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed. We all like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid upon Him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53: 4-6 BSB

The love behind this ultimate sacrifice birthed the concept of grace – a love that is unearned and undeserved.  It removes the idea of human worthiness and self-righteousness from the equation.  Without grace, no one would survive – not even the BEST of us!

“For the Law was given through Moses, but grace [the unearned, undeserved favor of God] and truth came through Jesus Christ.” – John 1:17 Amplified Bible

I don’t know how you feel about it my friend, but without grace I am nothing!  We seldom associate Good Friday with the concept of grace – a sacrifice centered in unearned and undeserved favor.  There has never been a single soul born that was worthy of such a sacrifice, yet the power of the love behind it made it possible.

We cheapen the Crucifixion when we don’t stop long enough to see the grace found within it.  When I contemplate it, I find myself resting with deep reverence and adoration within Good Friday – not wanting to scurry quickly to the Resurrection without honoring such deep, unincumbered love within such a profound sacrifice.  It humbles me.  It draws me closer to the Savior.

Think for a moment about outside of the Easter season and how we tend to discount Good Friday in our normal day-to-day life.

Too often we forgive others only with conditions.  We find it too difficult to forgive ourselves for the aspects of our lives where we fell far short, where we failed others, and when we couldn’t measure up.  We carry these burdens when they have already been lifted for us on Good Friday.

When our human ego judges the worthiness of ourselves and others and bases forgiveness on that judgement, we cheapen the Crucifixion.  Christ said “It is finished” once and for all!

 “The death he died, he died to sin once for all …” – Romans 6:10 NIV

Christ said, “It is FINISHED” – done, complete, with nothing more needed.  He didn’t say, “It is finished only for some.” or “My part is finished and now the rest is up to you!”

We discount the tremendous sacrifice when we don’t see it as all-inclusive – that we and others need to earn or behave in a way that adds to our own atonement.  The religious folks among us often like to think self-righteousness earns us a place in the next world, but nothing is further from the truth.  The atonement stands alone!  It covers everything – just like it covered the thief on cross next to Christ on Good Friday.  He was evil his entire life, yet Jesus promised that Paradise would await him in death.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2: 8-9 NIV

This doesn’t mean we have a license to be evil.  I love the quote above from C. S. Lewis – pointing out the grace found in God’s love for us – working in our lives to make us good 😊

My prayer this Good Friday is that each of us ruminate more in this day versus hurrying past it to get to Easter.  Think about the depth and weightiness of the sacrifice, the unmeasurable love and grace found within it, and how it changes us forever!

I hope you contemplate how Good Friday can be better lived day-to-day – quickly forgiving yourself and others without judgement – allowing grace to flow from you in the same way it flows to you each day 😊

When we fail and other fail us – remember our goodness and our self-righteousness doesn’t dictate our future.  Christ finished that once and for all on Good Friday!

Let’s give the day it’s due – honoring our Lord with adoration and reverence for all He has done!

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