THE MEANING OF GOOD FRIDAY By Pastor Scott Henry

• April 14, 2017

 

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” —Matthew 27:46

 

GOOD FRIDAY is the day when believers specifically remember the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ.  It’s a day we remember how Christ became a curse on the cross for all those given to Him by the Father in order that through His law-fulfilling life and sin-atoning death they might receive the blessing of God.  On Good Friday, we remember how Jesus suffered during His whole life on earth, and how He endured the reproach of sinful men and suffered the physical torture of being beaten and nailed to the cross.

 

But the greatest of Jesus’ suffering was when He was forsaken by His Father.  On the cross, Jesus Christ experienced the inexpressible anguish, pains, and terror of eternal death in order that those who would believe in Him might receive forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. That’s the truth behind Christ’s cry on the cross, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).  It was at this time that Christ became a curse for sinners (Galatians 3:13) and was cast out by the Father for every sinful thought, word, and deed of all He came to redeem. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

 

The Day of Atonement described in the Old Testament foreshadows in great detail the substitutionary work of our Lord Jesus Christ.  In the 16th chapter of the book of Leviticus, Aaron the High Priest was commanded by God to bring two goats before the Lord at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.  Aaron then cast lots for the goats: one for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat.  The goat on which the Lord’s lot fell was presented before the Lord as a sin offering and its blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat as a symbol of cleansing from sin.  But the other goat was presented alive before the Lord to make atonement upon it.  Aaron would place his hands upon the head of the goat and confess all the sins of Israel upon its head, symbolically imputing the sins of Israel to the scapegoat.  The scapegoat was then sent into an uninhabited land symbolically bearing the sins of Israel upon it.  The significance of the ceremony was twofold: the first goat signified the cleansing of all the sins of God’s people, and the second goat, the scapegoat, signified the truth that all the sins of the people were cast away from them and would never return.  The truth behind this Old Testament ceremony is that it foreshadowed the work of Jesus Christ on behalf of His people.  Jesus was both the sin offering who cleansed His people with His blood, and the scapegoat upon whom the sins of His people were imputed.

 

On the cross, Jesus was the One banished far into the uninhabited wilderness in order to redeem His people from their sins.  That’s why Jesus is called the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), and it’s also for this reason that believers can have the blessed assurance that their sins are cast as far as the east is from the west, never to be remembered against them again (Psalm 103:12).  Why?  Because on a Friday afternoon, over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ became our sin offering and our scapegoat in order that God’s wrath might be turned away from us and we become favorable in God’s sight.  That’s the truth we embrace as we remember the work of our Savior, Jesus Christ, on Good Friday.

 

Is your trust in Jesus as the only One who could ever wash away your sins by His atoning work? Scripture is very clear — “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Category: Scott Henry

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