On the surface it is hard to call the events of the day good at all. I try to imagine what it would have been like to be a disciple of Jesus on this day almost 2000 years ago. What emotions would have been flowing through the mind of someone who met Jesus in the flesh, heard Him teach, and watched miracle after miracles be performed; only to now not be able to save himself from a death sentence. What amount of doubt was in the mind of someone who had bought into the idea of eternal life, only to have the supposed giver of eternal life hunched over lifeless on the cross? What panic would have been in the heart of a person who felt like a sheep scattered by wolves that had just killed their shepherd?
If you are a follower of Christ I would invite you to take a moment and close your eyes. Try to erase your gift of hindsight of anything you’ve ever read in the Bible, and try to live in that moment. Take in the sight of your teacher that always had the right words to say standing silent in front of the angry mob yelling for his crucifixion. Feel the frustration as you just beg silently that he would speak a word and make it all go away. You know that if He would just speak then He would be able to save Himself, but he refuses to. Why? Why won’t He defend Himself?! As the day progresses and you see the blood on the whips, the blood of Jesus pooling around his feet, and the thorns in his brow. The cloths removed from Him. The nails driven into Him. The weight of his body sagging his shoulders down. His final breath. His death. At what point would you have asked yourself, hindsight aside, did I get this all wrong?
Truth be told, all of the mass confusion aside, it is a good Friday. It is the best Friday ever, because what we can see in hindsight is that all of the prophesies that Jesus needed to fulfill had finally been met; except for one that happens in a few more days. It was a horrible day for Jesus, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone not trying to fulfill a prophesy, but with all of the necessary items checked off the list the ultimate covenant between God and man had been fulfilled. We were all, with the final breath of Jesus, granted access to God, through grace. No more sacrificing the proper poultry, no more making sure you cut the cow right before burning it, no more need for removing excess skin before becoming a teenager. Jesus had died, the blood of the lamb had been sacrificed and we were set free from the bondage of sin. In our hindsight we know the outcome of the story, but in that knowledge we have to take a moment to appreciate where the grace of God really took hold.
The fact of the matter is that other than “the disciple that Jesus loved,” and the Mary’s no one else stuck around. They bolted. Maybe out of fear that they were next. Maybe because they couldn’t believe they fell for the scam. Maybe because they felt that the roller coaster ride was over and it was time to just get back to life. If we want to understand grace, we have to understand that the first people in need of grace were the same people who – for up to three years – dedicated their life to Jesus only to turn and run when it no longer made any sense. We can’t point the finger, because I can almost guarantee that we all would have been in the same boat, and many of us still are to this day, even with the gift of hindsight.
We all know what happens next. A dead and bloodied body of Christ is put into a grave, and in three days a transformed radiant glowing Jesus is back gathering his heard for a final encore. Yet, even with that understanding we are so often like the disciples who scattered on this day. When it doesn’t make sense. When it gets too impossible to believe anymore. When it seems the opposite of what we think should happen, happens instead. We turn our backs and go about life on our own. This good Friday, if this is you, and you have been going on trying to sort out life on your own because it seems like God just hasn’t been living up to His end of the bargain (whatever we think the bargain is) I would love for you to put yourself in the shoes of the people who thought they clearly got it wrong. Let yourself sink into the mind of one of the disciples who fell out of belief because of the death of Jesus. If you are feeling hopeless, absorb their hopelessness. Now with that same mentality realize that in 3 days he came back. Not to condemn any of them for their disbelief, nor is he condemning you for yours. He came back with love, He came back with grace, He came back so that we would believe. And if we believe, the death that he conquered would hold no victory over us either.