Do you know what really scares me about Easter?
It’s that we’ve sanitised it. Cleaned it up. Turned it into a nice little religious celebration … and in doing so, I wonder whether we’re not completely missing the point.
I struggled as to whether I should use this confronting image on this blog post to depict what happened on ‘Good Friday.’ I struggled with it because I thought I might offend someone. I struggled with it because I thought it might be hard for you to look at.
But then … Easter is offensive. Easter is difficult to look at. That’s what it is.
We use terms like “the blood of Christ,” “the Cross of Christ,” “the Crucifixion” all the time, we Christians. They just roll right off the tongue. But do we really know what we’re saying?
Just look at that terrible image for a moment. That’s the brutality of the Cross. That’s what God always had planned for His Son. That’s how seriously this God who loves us beyond all measure, takes the problem of sin in our lives.
We, on the other hand, rationalise our sin. We love to sweep it under the carpet. We love to tell ourselves that this one was really only a little sin. It’s of no real consequence in the scheme of things.
Look at that image again. Drink it in. Is God serious about our sin, do you think?
This is the price He paid, so that you and I could be forgiven. This is the price He paid so that you and I could be set free. This is the price of His grace toward you and toward me and toward any man, woman or child, who would believe that the Son of God – Jesus – is who He said He is, did what the Bible says He did, and paid the price of our sin.
My friend, this is the glorious, blood-red message of Easter. It’s a brutal message. It’s a confronting message.
God made you alive together with Him, when He forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.
The physical pain that Jesus suffered is … well, unimaginable. But what about the spiritual pain?
Have you ever woken up in the morning and remembered that horrible, stupid thing you did yesterday? That stupid thing that you said or did? That person whom you love, who you hurt so deeply … and felt the pain of that sin? That dull ache behind your eyes? That torn heart in your breast?
Horrible, wasn’t it?
Now imagine if you could feel the pain of all your life’s sin in one instant. It would be totally unbearable wouldn’t it?
Now … imagine that you can feel the pain of all the world’s sin – all the sin of every man and woman who has ever lived and who will ever lived on your shoulders.
That’s what Jesus bore on that Cross. Totally alone – His friends, His family, His disciples had deserted Him.
His Father, His Spirit had deserted Him – as our sin drove a brutal, dark wedge into the heart of the Trinity and for the first and last time in all eternity tore God Himself apart:
Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
This was the price. This is the message. The brutal suffering of Jesus for you and me.
Why is it so important? Here’s why.
Because when we lay hold of the reality and extent of that suffering, and when we realise Who it was that suffered – the Son of God, the Creator of the universe, God Himself – we can but come to one conclusion:
That the price that was paid for you and me by Jesus on that Cross that day is so infinitely greater than the fullest extent of our sin, that we need never … never be afraid of casting ourselves completely on the mercy of God. We need never have an ounce of doubt that when we come before God in repentance seeking forgiveness, that the price of our sin has been so fully paid, that we are instantly, completely, totally forgiven.
That’s why they call that terrible day, Good Friday.