Good Friday. That is what we call the day in which we remember Jesus’ death on the cross, his crucifixion. It is also called Black Friday, which would seem to make the most sense, at least on the surface, given the nature of that terrible day when darkness did envelope the land around the time of his death. As great as the injustices are, which regularly assault the world, this was the greatest injustice of all: that the Jewish leaders would sentence to death their Messiah, that sinners would nail to the cross the sinless one.
But the name for this day, Good Friday prevailed for good reason. Not only do we have the witness of our Lord on the cross in the seven last words, after which a Roman centurion exclaimed that, “Surely this was a righteous man, the son (or a son) of God.” And in that, the wonderful promise of our Lord to the repentant thief on the cross: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” But we have something more, something that is suggestive that in this day something climactic happened.
Shortly before Jesus died, he took some wine vinegar from a sponge to assuage his thirst. And to give him enough voice to express louder*: “It is finished.” Which can be translated, “It is accomplished.” We know from the other gospel accounts that Jesus then uttered the prayer of the psalmist: “Into your hands, I commit my spirit.” And then breathed his last.
Jesus had told his disciples: “No one takes my life from me. I have power to lay it down, and take it up again. This commandment I received from my Father.” Jesus was a victim, yes. But he was also, and preeminently in this, the victor. Indeed, the victory of God was won forever, once and for all, on that day. Of course the resurrection was needed for that victory to be set in place. But that was assured, indeed in Jesus’ death comes his resurrection, all those in him, and indeed all of creation following, in the new creation.
On that day, the world, the flesh and the devil’s doom was sealed. We can shout out with our Lord, “It is finished.” Our Lord did that for us and for the world. We together in him are to humbly proclaim and live this out, even here and now: the wonder of the cross our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
*Thanks to our Pastor Jack Brown for sharing that insight.