Good Friday. A day of juxtapositions. A day of death and a day of hope. A day of torture and a day that frees our souls. A day of everything gone wrong and everything set right.
The gift of Good Friday is the gift of repentance.
A day that forever more opens up opportunity to put our lives out on the table, say it like it is, all the good the bad and the ugly, and find sweet relief.
It is a day that marks a new freedom to confess, to say ‘I did that’ and to be released.
Released from the guilt and the shame and regret. A day for new beginnings. Fresh starts.
We cannot talk about freedom until we have talked about repentance. For freedom only comes on the back-side of our admitting what has not gone so well; the back-side of our acknowledging where in fact it has gone very badly.
It is a crises of our psych’s to admit wrong-doing and less-than living. An incredibly vulnerable moment when we do not know if a sword will fall or a hand will be extended.
Before the cross, before the King of Kings, what is the verdict? In the deepest parts of our being our hearts are unsure.
It is only as we come with nothing left to lose that we find grace and mercy and freedom.
The blood of Jesus shed on Calvary truly washes away our sin.
We are new creatures. Fresh. Alive. Free.
We find upon repentance that Jesus has in fact already claimed 100% responsibility for your and my sin and all the resulting ramifications.
“You didn’t do that, I did” Jesus declares.
Bring to mind the worst thing you’ve ever done. It doesn’t have to be big, it may be very small, but it is that thing that won’t leave you. That act or word or decision that never leaves you. That haunts you day and night. That though you move forward in all of life that one thing feels like a mill-stone about your neck.
About that thing, Jesus declares, “You didn’t do that, I did. I’ve taken responsibility and though you cannot see it I am working behind the scenes of your life that all the ugly and the nasty might be leveled off and made smooth. Made right. You didn’t do that thing, I did.”
But of course, those denying and refusing to acknowledge whats gone wrong through them, will never receive this gift.
Life is for those who admit they are dying.
Denials of heart and mind are found in all walks and stations around the world. Some of the deepest denials are those of believers, those of Christians who’ve managed to live lives of restraint and caution and prudence, but cannot see their own hearts judgments and condemnations.
These are the worst sins of all. Believers impervious to saving grace.
Believers still counting on their good works and their prudent lives to save them. It doesn’t work this way.
At the cross we are all on level ground. Every single one of us. And where we are angry for the grace and mercy shown another, we will not receive it ourselves.
Think of the kind of person that offends you to your very core. Bring to mind the kinds of acts that disgust you. Imagine the depths of horrors perpetrated on innocents around the world.
And get it, that that one stands beside you at the cross. That one is right there, elbow to elbow with you. That one has access to the same grace that you have.
Two very different lives standing before the cross. One clean and unsmeared. The other filthy and degrading. Stand equal at the cross.
For those who’ve lived ‘good’ lives this should break us. We are no better. In fact, unless we can find the core of our sin we will be worse off.
For the cross is for those who repent. The gift is given only to the contrite.
“Jesus I come to you today with parts of my life deeply offensive to you. I am sorry. Today I give over my life and take on your life. You have shown us the way to God and I say thank-you. Please teach me how to live and in fact, I now depend on you to transform me from the inside out, something I’ve never been able to do myself. I welcome you Jesus into my life. Thank-you for loving me. Amen”