Good Friday. I try to imagine Jesus. What He bore. The pain. The humiliation. The suffering. Are those words even adequate? Is it even possible to grasp the magnitude of what He willingly, in love for us and obedience to His Father, submitted to in order to pay the penalty for our sin? So that we may be saved. So that we might live a crucified life.
Comprehension eludes me. The smallest glimmer of understanding crushes me. At this very time, several thousand years ago, He willingly submitted to the worst man could inflict in order to make God’s best available to you and me through His death, burial, and resurrection.
He didn’t want the flogging. The spit in His face. The hateful taunting and humiliation. The nails driven cruelly in His hands and feet. The suffocation. The loneliness. The rejection of His own Father. He knew what was coming. Cried to His Father, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done" (Luke 22:42). He longed to be spared the cup of crucifixion to the point of sweating blood. “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:43-44).
But His death was necessary.
Our death is necessary, too.
Death to self.
The crucified life.
Not my will, but His.
“Though He (Jesus) was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
We, too, learn obedience by the things we suffer. Paul said it like this: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
What can I say today, Good Friday, that would hold any significance in light of Jesus’ sacrifice? Nothing. My words are totally inadequate. But His aren’t. The word – the lamp unto our feet and light unto our path – illuminates the way to the crucified life.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma (Ephesians 5:2).
…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
…by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 8:12).
...lay down our lives for the brethren (I John 3:16).
...wives, submit to our husbands as is fitting in the Lord (Colossians 3:18).
…husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her (Ephesians 5:25).
…children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord (Colossians 3:20).
…Fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks (Ephesians 5:3-4).
…put away all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking, and malice (Ephesians 4:31).
…owe no one anything except to love one another (Romans 13:8).
…do good and share (Hebrews 13:16).
…give as you purpose in your heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).
…judge not, condemn not (Luke 6:37).
…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32). (Even when you’re not asked.)
…be subject to rulers and authorities, obey, and be ready for every good work (Titus 3:1)
…speak evil of no one, be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men (Titus 3:2).
…continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name (Hebrews 13:15).
…rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).
Mission impossible? Yes! For me. In my own effort or power. But with God, nothing will be impossible (Luke 1:37). We can do everything through Him who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13), because His grace is sufficient for us, and His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Why the crucified life?
We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed – always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So then death is working in us, but life in you. And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak, knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Corinthians 4:7-5:5, emphasis mine).
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin” (Hebrews 12:1-4).
Lord, help us live a crucified life today and this Easter season as we become more wholly Yours.