Have you ever wondered what’s so good about Good Friday? The day Christ was crucified by Romans who take great pleasure in the cruelty of their crucifixion practices? I won’t go into all the gory details, but today we protest vehemently when an innocent man is left in prison. How much worse that an innocent man was tortured for a number of hours, forced to carry his own heavy wooden cross up a hill and then hung. Doesn’t seem like anything good.
When Jesus died on the cross, what was accomplished for you and me? There are likely more, but I see at least six things. Substitution. Expiation. Propitiation. Reconciliation. Redemption. Defeat of Satan’s power. A lot of church words. What do they mean? What was accomplished? How does it all impact why we are here? (photo via pixabay.com)
Jesus substituted for us by dying in our place. The just for the unjust. The perfectly Righteous for the unrighteous. The innocent for the guilty. You and I could never be free of sin on our own and the penalty for our sin was death. Jesus died in our place, substituting for us, to demonstrate God’s unfathomable love for us. Imagine being willing to be sin when He had never sinned. He faced the full wrath of God over our sin that pollutes the holiness of heaven. Sin: anything that is not exactly like God. And all of us have sinned and come way short of being exactly like God.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV) 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) 18 For Christ [the Messiah Himself] died for sins once for all, the Righteous for the unrighteous (the Just for the unjust, the Innocent for the guilty), that He might bring us to God. In His human body He was put to death, but He was made alive in the spirit, 1 Peter 3:18 (AMP)
Expiation means the removal of our sin and guilt by placing them on Christ. He took all our sins away, as far as the east is from the west. That is an indefinite distance! He is not judgmental regarding our sin, but compassionate; He knows we will never get it right. Once we acknowledge them before God and surrender to Him, He never thinks of them again!
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29 (NIV) 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Psalm 103:11-14 (NIV) 25 “I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again. Isaiah 43:25 (NLT2)
When Jesus became sin for us and took it away, He also removed God’s wrath at our sin and turned it into favor. We are no longer subject to the wrath of God for our sins. All Christ accomplished is a gift from God, an act of His kindness to us. Now we can bask in the favor and delight of God.
2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 (NASB) 9 Therefore, since we are now justified (acquitted, made righteous, and brought into right relationship with God) by Christ’s blood, how much more [certain is it that] we shall be saved by Him from the indignation and wrath of God. Romans 5:9 (AMP) 8 God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. 9 It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. Ephesians 2:8-9 (GW)
When Adam and Eve failed in the garden of Eden, we were all alienated and separate from God. Out sin could not be in His holy presence. Because of Jesus’ death, we are now reconciled again. No longer alienated and far away.
10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. Romans 5:10-11 (NIV)
We often say Christ died so we could be forgiven. While there is much more to it, forgiveness is definitely a part of what Christ accomplished on the cross. Forgiveness involves the release of one’s sin, so we have liberty or freedom. It implies we were captives or slaves to the power of that sin before. Again, God’s grace to us means we do not get what we deserve. Instead, we receive so much we did not deserve at all.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace Ephesians 1:7 (NIV)
Because of the cross, redemption in the New Testament includes more than redemption in the Old Testament. The Old Testament word means that the ransom price has been paid so we can be delivered from sin. In the New Testament, it means we are rescued from losses and our opportunities are improved. What are we rescued from? The curse of the law, the guilt of our sin, and the power of our sin.
Christ rescued us from the curse of the law. We are under a curse because we do not keep the law, and we cannot. Like Adam and Eve, we also bear the consequences of violating the law. The law acted as a legal document by which we are charged and found guilty. Christ became that curse on non-fulfillment for us so we are rescued from it and the consequences and receive the promise of the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11, Acts 1:4-8)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. Galatians 3:13-14 (NIV)
We are also justified. When I was a child, I learned Justified meant I was made just as if I’d never sinned. Justified. It means to declare not guilty. We are innocent of all charges against us.
24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:24 (NIV)
We are also rescued from the power of sin. We still struggle with our natural desires and thoughts, but we don’t have to continue to wrestle. By recalling what Christ accomplished on the cross, we are again freed.
22 I truly delight in God’s commands, 23 but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. 24 I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? 25 The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different. 1 With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. 2 A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. Romans 7:22 – 8:2 (MSG)
Defeat of Satan’s power
Satan has lied to us, accused and condemned us, stolen from us what God made available to us. But his works have been destroyed or rendered powerless.
8 …. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done]. 1 John 3:8 (AMP)
A real Easter celebration
This year, may Easter be even more special to you. Because of what Christ accomplished by dying on the cross, your sin and guilt can be removed. You can be free from the wrath of God and receive His favor and kindness. You are no longer separated from God. You are redeemed because Christ paid the ransom price for your life so you can be delivered or freed. You are declared not guilty and sin has no real power over you. What Satan tries to do is now destroyed.
This year, I pray you grasp what Christ did for you out of such great love for you. Yes, Good Friday is good indeed!
Carol Boggess, author and speaker
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts