The Journey To The Cross (Thoughts on Good Friday)
Towards the end of Holy Week, we come to Good Friday. Today, we take time to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ, the darkness that filled the land, the belief that everything was over.
As we enter into a time of reflection on this day, it helps to dwell on what Jesus went through and what this meant to His earliest followers.
On Good Friday we meet Jesus carrying the cross. He’s tired and dejected, but not alone. There are crowds of onlookers mocking him. They offer insults like free samples at Costco.
He trips and falls. The weight of a Roman cross weighing heavily upon Him. We’re told a man named Simon is forced to help Him carry the cross. Perhaps the Romans are afraid that He may die on the streets instead of on the hill.
After an arduous trek upwards, they arrive at Golgotha, the place of the skull. Nails are driven in and He’s hoisted up. Crucifixion is used to kill a person as much as it is to make an example out of them.
Jesus hangs on that cross, next to other convicted felons. The pain and suffering are intense. It’s a struggle just to breathe.
I remember the first time I read The Case for Christ and the details of the crucifixion were laid out. I found myself taken back, shocked at what Jesus went through.
We even created a word to try to describe the unthinkable pain that someone went through during crucifixion.The word excruciating means “of the cross.” Jesus hangs there for hours–Hours–as His body slowly deteriorates.
Then there’s that scene where Jesus thirsts and they offer him a sponge soaked in vinegar. The mockery continues, even in His debilitated state. Jesus sips, but His thirst is still strong.
Finally, the time comes and darkness rolls over the land. He cries out in Aramaic, quoting from His favorite Old Testament reference point–the Psalms. And on that cross, in darkness, hung on a rugged tree, He dies.
Growing up in Catholic school, every Friday during Lent we observed the stations of the cross. It was a forty-five minute mass dedicated to focusing on Jesus and His journey to the cross. I remember sitting and kneeling and reflecting on the pictures around the church.
Friday is supposed to be the highlight of the week when you’re in school. But during Lent, those afternoons felt weighty. Because the repetition of focusing on the cross made it more real. It made me think and reflect–even in my easily distracted adolescent mind–on Jesus and what He went through.
Today I’m spending time thinking about the cross. Today I’m trying be real and honest about my sin that Jesus went to the cross for.
So often in our lives we tend to care so much about what others think of us. This is especially true in the area of sin, isn’t it? We get worried about what so-and-so might think or say, or how it will impact them. We often fail, however, to think about God.
Our sin is real. It causes separation in our lives. It severs our connection with our creator. And God sent Jesus to the cross for it. Jesus endured the wrath of God for us.
Ever felt lonely? Abandoned? Alone? Had your friends turn their backs on you?
Jesus felt that too.
He experienced the darkness of being on the cross, abandoned by His father, left alone by His friends.
At times we don’t let things be heavy enough. But today, if we truly understand what today means, is that way. It’s heavy. It’s deep. It’s painful.
See Jesus on the cross.
Relate to His pain of abandonment.
See Him struggle with the weight of the sin of the world and the excruciating pain of crucifixion. But also see His obedience and His love.
Remember He cried out to His father in the garden, “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Good Friday recounts the greatest act of love you and I have ever received: Jesus.
The truth of this week is that we are inexplicably and undeniably loved by God. Jesus laid down his life that we might experience the closeness of God, the reality of His presence, the beauty of forgiveness. As Isaiah prophesied, “by his wounds, we are healed.”
Sometimes healing comes through tears. Sometimes healing hurts before it gets better.
It’s okay to hurt today.
It’s okay to be real about our pain and frustrations.
It’s okay to soak in the darkness for a bit.
On Good Friday, we journey to the cross with our savior, reflecting on what unrelenting love looks like.
And we cling to the hope of Calvary–the assurance that even though it’s Friday, Sunday is coming.