I grew up in a traditional Methodist church. We recognized Advent, Lent, Easter and everything in between. But if you asked me if I understood why we observed Easter the way we did, I would have no idea. Words like "atonement", "sacrificial lamb", and “Good Friday” went over my head.
Years later, when the Gospel made sense to me and I began a relationship with Jesus, I would wonder, “If Jesus died on Friday of Easter weekend, why the heck do Christians call it ‘Good Friday’?! Shouldn’t it be called “Bad Friday”?
Today’s passage comes from the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, Isaiah received a prophecy from God about a Messiah who would come and redeem his people.
4 "Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
Questions to Consider
- Read this passage several times, slowly. What words or phrases strike you most from this passage? Jot them down in a journal.
- What is this Messiah like, according to Isaiah?
- Think about the pain and suffering you see in yourself and in the world around you. How does Jesus relate to this?
I’ll never forget the first time a student disclosed to me that she had been sexually assaulted. When I was a student, I knew women who had been sexually assaulted. But this was different. This was a student involved in the ministry I was leading, a student whom I deeply loved and who God entrusted to me to care for and invest in.
As we sat in her bedroom in her sorority house, I listened, with tears streaming down my face, as she shared about the pain, anger, and suffering. To a small degree, I experienced that pain with her.
On the cross, Jesus bore our pain and suffering to the fullest. He literally took on all of the suffering of the entire world- both the pain that has been done to us and the pain we have done to others. Good Friday is good in the sense that Jesus’ death is for our good.
The real meaning of goodness during Easter weekend isn’t happiness or a nice feeling- although that might be part of it. Goodness means a life of wholeness- where everything is made right and just and whole again. Jesus, our God in the flesh, went to the cross to free the world of sin and suffering, giving us the possibly of freedom and healing for our pain and forgiveness for the pain we have caused others.
Through his death on the cross, we can experience his “goodness”- the life of freedom and wholeness that we don’t deserve but that God graciously gives us through his son. And that is a very good thing.
Throughout the day, ask Jesus to show you how he is bearing your pain and the pain of the world. Talk to him about your suffering and ask him to bring his “goodness”- his freedom, justice, and wholeness- to your brokenness.