Today is Good Friday. As a kid, I never could wrap my mind around how the day Jesus died on the cross could be called "good." I'm not sure I could do it as an adult either. How could anything "good" be found in that day?
Last week in Kids' Church, I taught the lesson on Palm Sunday and Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. As He entered the city, the people called out "Hosanna" which means "save us." I've taught this story many times but this time, it hit me that Jesus was there for Passover - and He had come as the sacrificial lamb. Somehow it struck me like never before. Just as He was born in a stable like the sacrificial lambs were born, He was going to the Passover as the lamb of God...a sacrifice on this day that would mark how God made a way for the Children of Israel to be spared death just before the Exodus.
Once again, I started pondering something I've heard so many times - Jesus, who knew no sin, hung on the cross. He was not guilty... Then somewhere, I heard a shocking statement. Jesus was guilty - not with his own guilt, but with ours. Just as the lamb that was sacrificed "took on" the sins of the people, Jesus took on our sins that day. But how do you explain that to children?
That's where the other part of our lesson came in. I wish I had thought of it, but I found it on another site. You can find the original lesson it comes from at this site: Helping kids understand Good Friday Basically, I had my son, Levi, stand before the group to represent Jesus. In his words, "I don't look like Jesus," but he certainly looked more like Him that anyone else in the room. The lesson suggested this person wear a robe, but we couldn't find one that fit my son, so a really big red shirt would fit the bill. As it turned out, that red shirt was much more effective than any robe would have been.
As my son stood in the front of the room, the children noticed that his shirt had no spots, nothing. It was just red, like the blood of Jesus. Then they each took scraps of black construction paper and wrote one of their "sins" on it, something they had done wrong whether big or small. They came up and taped those black blotches to his shirt; before long it was covered! He then took the shirt and turned it wrong side out. The red completely covered all the sin. Like the thief on the cross that recognized Jesus for who He was, all those who gave their sin to Jesus had them covered by the blood of the lamb.
You know, I've done this lesson before and we put our sins on the cross, but this is the first time I've ever done it where I put them on a person that represented Jesus. Maybe it meant so much more to me because we used my own son as a prop...I'm certain if it had been left up to me, I'd never have allowed my son to carry all those sins of others to the cross. But there he stood, representing Jesus - covered with the "sins" of others.
This made me look at things in a whole new light. When Jesus stumbled as He carried that cross up the hill, was it because it was so heavy, or because the sins that were now placed on Him were so heavy that the weight of them made it nearly impossible to walk? The one who was spotless was literally carrying what I had done all the way to the altar and then acted as the sacrifice that would cover them all.
I have heard the story of Jesus on the cross in so many ways, but for some reason, seeing those black blotches on that red shirt made me see things in a new light. Jesus was guilty when He hung on the cross - but the guilt was mine. He had taken it on so that I didn't have to.
Only God could take the horror of that day and turn it into something "good." If He can do that on that day, surely He can take whatever comes my way and turn it to good, too.
Thankful Good Friday and Easter, my friends. Like the thief on the cross that believed, our debt has been paid, and we are guilty no more.
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those called according to His purpose.
Isaiah 53:12 (emphasis mine)
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
1 Peter 2:24-25 (Message) (emphasis mine)