by pastor Katie Preston
Note: This week’s devotional entries all pertain to the events of Passion Week, the Crucifixion, and the Resurrection.
Read Luke 23:39-43
One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
It’s Friday and Jesus is hanging on a cross next to two criminals. That doesn’t sound like a good day to me. In fact it is completely opposite of what I generally would call a good day. So why is the Friday before Easter called “Good Friday”?
The day when God allowed himself to experience the deepest separation and pain, this is the day they called good. Good Friday wasn’t what we would call a good day for Jesus, but it was a good day for the criminal that was being crucified next to Jesus. Good Friday seemed like the worst possible day for Jesus’ followers, but without the death of Jesus there is no Resurrection. The beauty of Easter Sunday begins on Friday. In Friday we see separation, pain and the frustration of the disciples’ expectations. But when we look at Sunday and the Resurrection we learn that the suffering of Jesus was selfless love.
A pastor once spoke of Jesus’ love, noting that even on the cross He was reaching out in love. He loved the criminals that were suffering next to Him. Good Friday was good for the criminal, it was good for me; good Friday was and is good for the world. The suffering, sin, and separation of the world was carried by our Savior that day.
He already took our burdens and our sins. We can have peace simply by letting go of the burdens that weigh us down. Sin is like trying to swim with a cement ring around your neck. Jesus provided a cement remover and a raft for us, but He can only remove the cement from our necks if we let Him. In the same way we have to get in the life raft.
Good Friday is good because Jesus did all that was required for salvation that day. It’s good Friday for us when we accept the work that has been done on our behalf. Otherwise, if we don’t, we miss out on the good and we only get Friday.
Pray the following prayer as your own, or use it as a guide for your prayer time:
Lord God would you help us to remember the sacrifice that was made on that Good Friday so many years ago–that we have to allow You to remove the cement ring of sin around our necks. Thank You for giving Your life so that we might be able to live a life of peace and accept the gracious gift You’ve given. Lord, draw us close. Amen.