In my place he stood. When I was 8 years old, I threw a baseball through a window with my older cousin Chad standing right next to me. As soon as the glass shattered, my mom poked her head out the window wanting to identify the guilty party. Her gaze fell upon me and just before I was going to burst into tears and accept my punishment, Chad stepped in front of me and said, “I did it.”  I was too cowardly (and grateful) to correct him. He stood in my place and took the punishment I deserved. 

And while just a common story of a kid weaseling his way out a punishment he deserved, there is a truth woven through it that gets us to the heart of what something like the death of Jesus could be called “good.” 

Why is Good Friday referred to as “good”? It does not take a Bible scholar to read what the Romans and Jewish leaders did to Jesus that see that it was definitely not good (see Matthew chapters 26-27). However, the results of Christ’s death are very good! Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” 1 Peter 3:18 tells us, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.”

What is wild about this is that still my heart has something that bubbles up in it that wants to say, “but that is not fair!” Jesus was innocent. Innocent people should not take the punishment of rebel evil-doers. Yet that is exactly what happened and makes the grace found in the cross of Christ really so incredible. 

And because you and I have wreaked havoc in God’s perfect world and thrown the metaphorical baseball through the window of God’s perfect design for humanity and this world, someone must pay.  Yet there we stand with empty pockets to pay the debt we owe. So what does God do? He sends his son to stand in our place and substitute himself for us (2 Cor. 5:21). Often in a world of outrage and offense, I marvel that we don’t spend more time just absolutely stunned by the incredible scandal of the one perfect, innocent, Son of God being crucified for guilty rebels. What kind of God would do this?  Only one who loves so deeply that his love compels him ransom his people at all costs (John 3:16, Mark 10:45).

And so the day that Jesus was crucified is good. In fact, good is an understatement for you and I. This Fridays is amazing, awe-inspiring, and gut-wrenching. Christ crucified for you and me. 

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