Today is Good Friday. We call this day “Good” because it is the day the whole world was crucified in Christ. Sounds like a contradiction doesn’t it: death is good.
Death is the ultimate blessed-curse.
God issued this blessed-curse at the inception of the world: “If you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). Personally, I understand this word death to mean: dead as a doornail; cessation of life; irreversible termination; 100% dead. This kind of death is a curse to any person who receives it, but truly it is the mercy of God.
If we ponder the tragedies of the world around us: starvation, rape, war, sexism, racism, homophobia – it is a mercy that we should die and not live in a state of perpetual sin-symptoms for all eternity.
This is why the whole world must die.
However, God never willed for the existence of humankind to cease. God set this world into motion knowing that it would falter and he declared that he would save us from the very “foundation of the world” (Rev 13:8).
Jesus was born as a human being – able to die, just like one of us – and he transformed the curse of death into the blessing of resurrected life. The best analogy I can use for this blessed-curse is pregnancy. Jesus was pregnant with the whole world when he died. “For IN Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) & “IN him ALL things hold together” (Col 1:17).
As Jesus willingly hung on the cross, I hung there with him. The whole world hung there IN him. How do we know it was the whole world? “One died for ALL, therefore ALL died … Anyone IN Christ is a new creation! The old has passed away; the new has come … God was IN Christ, reconciling THE WORLD to himself!” (2 Cor 5:14-19)
Hallelujah! Today is the day we died with Christ!
“Where, oh death, is your victory?
Where, oh death, is your sting?
Death has been swallowed up in victory!”
(1 Cor 15:55&54)
Death became our birth canal! Jesus is the “firstborn from among the dead” (Col 1:18) and we also “must be born again” (John 3:7). Many believe that being born-again is a choice or a decision that we make as cognitive human beings. But when a man and woman conceive a baby, that baby has no choice but to be born. The loving motions of the father and mother bring that baby to life. The baby does not create or birth itself. It was no mistake that John used the phrase: born again. Jesus knew he was carrying the whole world. He dove deep into death with the whole world IN him, and he gave birth to a resurrected, new creation!
After John speaks of being born again (chapter 3) he goes on to say that Jesus must be ‘lifted up’ to bring about eternal life. “For God so loved THE WORLD that he gave his one and only son” (verse 16). Then in chapter 12 he brings this phrase ‘lifted up’ to its climax in Jesus’ own words: “And I, when I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL PEOPLE to myself!”
This is why Jesus had to die!
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds!” (John 12:24)
On Easter Friday the world died in Christ and on Easter Sunday it resurrected. The world was reborn. And the world is still being reborn. And the world will be reborn. It has happened spiritually IN Christ and it culminates physically at the point of death. All who ever live will be touched by death. It is when we physically die, that we experience Jesus’ resurrection power at its fullness and our rebirth is complete!
We celebrate Easter, not just to bring to mind something that happened to someone else 2000 odd years ago! Easter is both a memory and future declaration of what has happened and is happening to the entire human race IN Christ. This is the Gospel! This is the Good News. This is Good Friday.