As I sit down behind my computer to write this piece, I cannot but admit that Christ’s death is what makes my faith in Christ solid and unshaken. The death of Christ means differently to different people but what we can conclude on is that he came to this world to die and on the third day he resurrected. As Paul emphasized in his letter to the Corinthians, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-20).
Therefore we have the assurance that our God is risen and that’s why celebrating His death and resurrection is significant for not only Christians but the world. He came not for a select group of people but humanity whether you believe it or not.
What is Good Friday?
Good Friday is marked across the world by Christians as a day when Jesus took our sins to the cross in exchange for his righteousness. The death of a beloved one is a gory sight and a despondent time for loved ones and even your worst enemy wouldn’t wish that for you. Mary and Jesus’ siblings as well as those who loved him were hit by how he was crucified among criminals, meaning he’s a “criminal”.
Prior to his crucifixion, he moaned that if it’s possible God should let this cup run over him, but he said not my will but let Your will be done. Here, he felt the impending shame and the heaviness of death as a man but as a son of God he was revived, and he knew the very purpose he had come to the earth “to save humanity and to draw man back to God”. That’s why it’s a Good Friday for us Christians and for everyone because he came not just for a particular group of people but for all mankind and we remember this day in triumph when death couldn’t hold him captive. Even on the cross he saved a criminal. Christ came for the sinners not the righteous. He never wanted anyone to perish but to experience the loving kindness of The Father.
Four ways Jesus’ victory on the cross was different from any other person
1. Jesus gave up his life to claim the victory
John 10:11 tells us about how Jesus calls himself “the good shepherd”. And every good shepherd thinks of the safety of his sheep making sure that nobody snatches even one sheep away. Thus, Jesus won the victory by laying down his life for mankind as he was commanded by the Father in John 10:17-18. “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
2. Jesus didn’t fight those who persecuted him
Most leaders go to battle to fight against those who persecute or want to destroy them. However, Jesus never came to earth with an army to fight his enemies or to domineer over them. His reply to Pontius Pilate succinctly captures it all “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” (John 18:36).
Prior to His capture he went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray for strength to face what was ahead of him (Matthew 26:36-46). We could confidently say that the strength he gained made him to even rebuke Peter for cutting one of the people’s ear and proclaimed that even if I were a thief would you come with clubs to arrest me. He pontificated in Matthew 26:53-54, “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?”
3. Jesus knew that he wasn’t fighting an earthly battle
From the outset, Jesus knew that he came to this earth for a purpose and a mission. To reconcile man to God and to fight death because sin has encapsulated man and that had separated man from God. As the Bible says in Romans 5:12, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.” This implies that Christ came to bridge that gap and to be our mediator who intercedes on our behalf.
We could see how Paul forcefully tells the Church in Ephesus as he described to them the battle we are waging. He said in Ephesians 6:12 that for our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
4. Jesus’ victory was not a momentary one but an eternal one
When we look at the people in history, their battles are just for a period until they are defeated, and their victory is forgotten. Let’s examine when a runner who wins his town a race and his victory is just short-lived as another runner beats his record. He would soon be forgotten as he is replaced by another person. But our dear Lord Jesus’ victory is not temporary or short-lived, it’s permanent and eternal. With his death on the cross and resurrection three days later, Jesus declared a once and for all victory over death and destroyed its ultimate power over our life. And at Christ’s return, we will see that “death has been swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54b).
As we celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, be rest assured that he has taken your sins, burdens, infirmities and everything to the cross and given you His righteousness.
BY: STEPHEN OBIRI AGYEI