The crowds shouted, “Crucify him!” (Mark 15:13-14). The governor had him flogged (Mark 15:15). The soldiers mocked him, beat him, and spit on him (Mark 15:16-20). Then he was led to the place where he would be tortured. The soldiers drove the nails and lifted the cross; surely those who loved him gasped with broken hearts as they heard the deafening thud of the cross setting into its place. Hanging there, with open wounds and outstretched arms, and using every last ounce of life he had left, he sustained the weight of his weakened body to avoid asphyxiating to death. And the insults continued. "So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days," shouted passersby, "come down from the cross and save yourself!" (Mark 15:29-30). Even the religious leaders couldn't resist: "He saved others,” they snarked, “but he can’t save himself!" (Mark 15:31).
Then came a darkness like never before. Like a black canopy, dark clouds rejected the warmth of the sun as the Son of God sustained his nail-pierced body, fighting to breathe, until he could breathe no more. In the cold of that darkness, after all the insulting, all the beating, and all the anguish, with nothing left within him to sustain himself, he pierced the cool air with his own words: "It is finished" (John 19:30), and he breathed his final breath (Mark 15:37).
How could this day be good? The Giver of life hung lifeless on an unjust cross stained by his own lifeblood. And those who were given life by him put him there. No, there was nothing good on this day, except for the goodness of God. For it was precisely through the darkness of floggings, beatings, insults, and a torturous death that Jesus shone the brightness of his love in the greatest way possible:
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).
There, where he bled and breathed his last, he ransomed us, even when we weren’t seeking to be rescued. Sin, death, and darkness had its grips on us, so he traded his righteousness for our wickedness and his beauty for our repulsiveness, that we might be freed. What was his motive? Love. Pure love. Shocking, extravagant love for an entire dark world (John 3:16).
This Good Friday, take a moment to remember how Jesus has demonstrated his shocking, extravagant love to you. You might feel sorrow over all he suffered. You might feel anger over the magnitude of the injustice against him. But ultimately, I hope you feel gratitude over the display of his love for you. Because it's true: Jesus died for you. The greatest good in human history came on its darkest day, all because of the goodness of God.