Published on Good Friday 2021

Right about now, you’ll probably be in one of two camps.

Camp A; the ones who hear the words “Good Friday” and maybe recognise that it’s a thing, but don’t see any real significance in it.
& Camp B; the ones who know and acknowledge Good Friday as it is.

Today, I’m writing to those in Camp A. Wherever you are, I hope you’re well this Good Friday. Today is a day that really makes us wonder what the word ‘good’ really means.

What is Good Friday?
Good Friday is the day in which Jesus was arrested, put on trial by the religious leaders of the day for claiming to be the Son of God, was tortured, then publicly and brutally executed for his alleged crimes. He had spent the previous 3 years moving in the most compassionate, loving ways known to mankind. He had been doing exactly as His Father had told Him to. Healing the sick, raising the dead, teaching large crowds about the true heart of God, and how we seem to always misunderstand that heart. But because that seemed to go against the grain of the religious practices and commandments previously given by God, the religious leaders were left looking like fools. Obviously, they didn’t like that, and were outraged at this nobody just appearing out of nowhere, telling them that they had got it wrong after all these years. They thought they had been right. They thought that as long as they got the necessary sacrifices and rituals done, they were clear of all sin and that their hearts and minds didn’t need to be changed.
They were wrong.

What is it to be ‘good’?
I don’t know about you, but I always find it a poignant moment when I hear someone say the words “He was a good man”, or “You are such a good person”. It’s poignant, and it’s a big deal if we hear someone say it to us. But what does it mean? Without falling down a philosophical rabbit-hole, I often wonder why we consider ourselves or fellow human beings as adequate judges of that? Human beings do have a sense of morality built in to us, since we were all made in the image of God, but that morality is far from absolute.

We make terrible decisions in life, as individuals and as society, so why do we think we then have the right to arbitrarily say with any authority what is and isn’t good?
Part of Jesus’ teaching was for us to understand what it is to be ‘good’. He even responded to someone who had called Him good with “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Mark 10:18

The harsh reality is that we are not good. Any scrap of morality that we possess is as a gift of common grace from God. The Bible is His word, and in it lies the real and absolute truth. Without it, we cannot hope to reach any level of goodness.

In Romans 3, we read that we have “proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.”

So on that note; back to Jesus...

A Day of Mourning
Try to imagine for a second, the purest, most innocent, loving and compassionate individual in all creation being arrested for something that you did. Imagine being powerless to stop the barbaric lashing, public humiliation and ultimate death as the penalty. It’s crushing, isn’t it? You think “where’s the justice?”. So, you can see why Good Friday is actually a day of mourning and sorrow. The only perfect man was killed in the most horrific of ways, and He didn’t even put up a fight.
We grieve when someone dies. We despair when someone dies for reasons that we believe to be unjust. We simply cannot understand what was at play in this story. That’s because this wasn’t just a perfect man, and He didn’t just die for something you did. This goes far deeper than we usually give the time to grasp.

Spiritual Significance
When we talk about sin, it really just seems like a buzz word for those intolerant religious folks who disagree with you and don’t want you to be happy.
In actual fact, people didn’t define sin in the first place, and are all touched by it. Our world was broken when Adam defied God in the garden of Eden, and as a result, no one (and I mean no one) is exempt from sin. This is why the virgin birth we sing about at Christmas is so important. It was God’s loophole to have His Son born into our world, without sin being genetically inherited.

Ok, I know. ‘Slow down with the sin-chat Iain!’ … You’ll just have to trust me that I’m telling this story to you for a very good reason, and I AM going somewhere worthwhile with it.

Sin bears a heavy weight on our fragile human condition. It’s the sole reason that our world has such unspeakable tragedies happening in it every day. It’s the reason why we suffer. It’s the reason why we’re numb to God. This is why it takes a step of faith to believe in the God-story. To believe such a story is to be vulnerable and to let your heart be softened and touched by something you just don’t understand.

God is the one who created us all, and the only one who knows our most inner selves. He is perfect, and He is holy. Being holy means that the unbelief that we carry about Him and about His heart go against His very nature. So, to be able to reach us in our state, and to bring us back to Him to be loved and guided into our soul purpose, a bridge needed built.

When Jesus died, He died bearing the weight of the sin of all of mankind. Past, present and future! He knew that we would continue to disbelieve in Him. He knew that we would continue to rebel against Him, all in the name of our own apparent freedom and autonomy – but He did it anyway!

His body, soul and spirit were pulverized and destroyed for the repugnant things that happen in our life, even now. Think grand-scale evil – what examples do you think of... The Holocaust, the slave-trade, genocide, racism, sex trafficking? These are without doubt the most obvious and most foul sides to mankind, and yet, Jesus paid the eternal debt for them.

Glorious Victory!
I know! It’s just too much to believe. It’s just too bold a claim. It’s just too perfect an escape for those who I think really ought to rot in Hell for their crimes against humanity.

There’s no way God would let us off and consider our eternal debt paid forever based on us choosing to believe this story... or is it?
Jesus didn’t stay dead by the way. When he died, he went down to Hell [like a true boss], and took the keys of death. Death would try to hold on to anyone who goes there, but it couldn’t keep a hold of Jesus. He walked on out of Hell, and broke its power in the process. He rose from the dead 3 days later, thereby opening up the grave to allow us to walk out of it freely to be in the holy and perfect presence of God Himself.

This claim is what has troubled millions of people.

If the God-story is true; if we can truly be saved from ourselves; if we can be made right and called “righteous” because of someone else dying, when we truly deserve none of it; if God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life... then surely that’s not only good news, but the best news in the history of the universe!

What about me?
What has that got to do with me though? Well, it actually has the most significance when you take that story, and look at your own life for yourself. What would that mean for you?

Firstly, it would look like you accepting that you don’t and never have had it altogether and that you make a terrible master of your own life (and don’t worry; that’s not to tear you down, it’s the same for all of us!). It would then look like you doing something that may be new and foreign; try praying. Go and hide for a sec, and under your breath ask God if He’s there. Ask Him if He’s there to show Himself to you. Admit to Him that you’ve spent too long trying to be the boss of your own life and that you’re exhausted. You need a Saviour. You need someone to pick you up, dust you off from the journey you’ve been on and hold you close like a loving Father ought to. You need to know that He has always loved you, and has been desperate for you to just get over yourself and run into His open arms.

He WILL be there. He WILL accept you. He WILL love you. He WILL forgive you. He WILL take your hand and never let you go. He WILL show you how He always planned for your life to go and help you take the steps to make that reality. He WILL take your tired, aching, broken soul and pour His life into it.
Without God, we despair. Without God, we have no purpose. Without God, we wander aimlessly, then die. You were made to be with God. You were made to live with the purpose He has always had for you.
Jesus is the way we can take real steps into that purpose, and make it to eternal life in the presence of God.

All you have to do to make this God-story a reality in your life is have that conversation with God. When you do that, you accept Jesus as your personal Saviour, and Lord of your life. That means that you accept Him as the one who has saved you, is still saving you, and will forever continue to save you. That also means that Jesus is Lord. He is King. He is the one who has the rule and responsibility for you.
But you need to make that choice for yourself.

I made that choice when I waw 13 years old, and again as an adult at 19 – and I have never looked back. This is real.

The title of this is inspired by a famous song, that received an adaptation to the following:
Ain't No Grave (Official Lyric Video) - Bethel Music & Molly Skaggs | VICTORY

When asked, Molly Skaggs who co-wrote the version and performed it said this:
“...This is an anthem for ANYONE who is ready to follow Jesus and walk out of the graves in their daily life. "Ain't No Grave" is a testimony of faith, a song for those who are ready to shake off the victim mentality and stand up in the truth of who they really are."

My favourite line of the song is “If you walked out of the grave, I’m walking too.”

I know I’ve walked out of that grave, and I’m going to keep on walking.

My question for you is: Will you walk with me?