At the close of this week we will gather for worship in order to commemorate the death of our Lord Jesus Christ on “Good Friday.” This activity of course is not unique to that particular day, as if the commemoration of Christ’s death was not a daily occurrence in our Christian walk. We consider Christ’s death every Lord’s Day whenever we sit under the Word and listen to the preaching of Christ crucified, or whenever the confessing members of our churches partake of the Lord’s Supper, and indeed even when we witness the baptism of young child. Likewise in our personal devotions and prayers we constantly recall the work of Christ. As Reformed Christians we are, after all, Christ-centered people. This is not simply a characteristic of our theology or worship; it is what defines our very worldview. For us Christ is the purpose of all of history. Christ alone gives meaning and significance to every event in our lives, indeed, every event in the history of this world. Therefore when we gather together on Friday in commemoration of the real, historical death of Christ, we remember an event of cosmic significance.
Good Friday affords us an opportunity to take some extra time and reflect upon some of the deepest and most sacred aspects of our faith: the meaning of Christ’s death and its implications for us. But what is the nature of this commemoration? What ought our attitude to be towards the death of our Lord? Consider the beautiful words of Colossians 1:12-22:
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciledin the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight…
So much meaning is packed into these God-breathed words, one would do well to ruminate on them for a while so as to absorb fully their teachings. This man Jesus Christ: He is the dear Son of heaven, the very image of God. He is before all things, and through Him all things were created, and still, by His sustaining power all things continue to exist. Yet he took on the flesh of His own creation in order to die in the place of his own fallen creatures. This death, which occurred some two thousand years ago on a hill called Golgotha, is the greatest life-giving event which has ever been wrought in human history. And you and I, Christian brothers and sisters, are beneficiaries of that work. He who is very God, willingly submitted to death for the sake of sinners such as you and me, in order that we may be unreproveable in the sight of God. Let that sink in. We are unreproveable in the sight of God, it is truly a wonder. Moreover through the death of Christ we have been given, together with our fellow saints, an incorruptible inheritance. Our darkness has been turned to light, and we have been transferred from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. We who were once aliens and enemies of God have been made His covenant friends, even adopted sons and daughters, and therefore heirs to all the riches of His grace. In this regard, Good Friday, far from being a cause for grief, ought to fill us with inextinguishable joy and prompt us to unceasing thanksgiving.
And as a result of all of this we have peace, peace through the blood of the cross! This peace is all-encompassing. The guilt of our sin has been removed, and with it the penalty that was rightfully ours. Our eternal destiny is secure in the hands of God, whose own hands bear the engraved names of his people. Our every pain and sorrow in this life is infused with meaning and purpose, and we can rest in the confidence that all things are orchestrated by our loving Father for our good. What better response is there than to gather with fellow believers this coming Friday at the house of the Lord in order to render praise and thanksgiving to God for His indescribable gift in Christ: Peace with Him through the blood of the cross, peace which indeed passes all understanding.