Today we remember a man’s brutal, painful and wrongful execution at the hands of a threatened and oppressive state when the prevailing religious authority backed them into a corner. Whenever I contemplate Christ’s crucifixion I always think of two things.
Firstly, I remember my visit to the Garden of Gethsemane in Israel – the place where the events of Good Friday began. Secondly, I remember a single verse of Scripture. Written by the Apostle Paul to the church in Galatia:
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Note the first phrase of that verse, “I have been crucified with Christ….” When Christ died, something of us died with Him. Jesus took the full brunt because we could not, but we still suffer a glancing blow – we are, non-lethally, nailed to that cross right along with Jesus. Too often we try to avoid that reality. Usually we are just grateful someone else hung there and made us good; ignoring the reality that we are in some sense up there too. Before we enjoy the promised new life, the old life has to hang on that cross.
We hold so hard to the old life; we act like it is worth something; we fail to realize the incredible beauty of the new life. I know every time I think about what I have on the cross with Christ I think I am going to die too. But I am not because Christ did it for me. That fact alone should be enough for me to let go of my tight grip on the old life, but alas I keep holding tighter.
Today – Good Friday – I need to stare the potential for my death square in the face. Death is a certainty this day and only when I understand my portion of that death can I truly experience the gratitude on which my new life is built.
I do not want to meet this Good Friday with a “Whew!” – I want to meet it with a “There but by the grace of God go I.” This day that phrase is quite literally true.