Today is Good Friday.
To a Christian, this could arguably be one of the top 3 most important days of the year, alongside the day of Christ's resurrection and the day of His birth. It is a day that should make us stop. Stop and recognize what exactly it was that Christ did for us.
As I read the story of the crucifixion this morning I let it really sink in. The words are so familiar that there are times I don't fully appreciate what I am reading. This morning I read the story like it was the first time.
And these words jumped out at me...
"'He saved others,' they said, 'but he can't save himself! He's the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him." (emphasis mine). It was the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders who were saying this. The people who consistently refused to believe who he was. The very ones who plotted his death.
All Jesus had to do was come down from the cross and he would have convinced ALL who doubted him. Don't think for a second that he couldn't have done it. Jesus absolutely could have taken the nails out of his hands and feet and stepped down off the cross. He could have stopped it, stopped them in their tracks. And in so doing, he would have convinced everyone who doubted him and shouted for his death that he was who he said he was. They would have seen that he was indeed the Son of God. But he didn't do that.
He didn't stop it. He didn't come down off the cross. He stayed. And he died. Why?
For you. For me.
It's that simple.
Yes he could have done it differently. He could have chosen to convince the doubting. He could have chosen to prove himself to them. But he didn't. He stayed on the cross. He suffered. He died. In an hour of desperation he felt forsaken by his own father, and he cried out to him. And he did it all willingly. For you...for me.
It can sometimes be hard to see the "Good" in that Friday. But it is Good news. So, so good, because that isn't the end of the story. The priests, teachers and elders didn't win. Christ IS the Son of God. When the centurion and all those who were with him guarding Jesus saw what happened as Jesus died, they exclaimed, "Surely he was the Son of God!" It is good news what happened that Friday over 2000 years ago, very good news.
Check out the rest of this very good news in Chapters 27 and 28 of Matthew.