As we have walked through the final week of Jesus’ life during Holy Week, we hope you have experienced both death and resurrection in deeper ways. Today, as we continue the road to resurrection, we celebrate Good Friday together.
My mother has a habit of sending me spiritual insights that occur to her as she studies scripture. Which honestly, is pretty amazing. My mom is still growing more like Jesus as she ages. And she wants me to do the same. Yep, Mom is pretty awesome.
Yesterday she pointed me to something that I really had never given much thought to. In Matthew 26, Jesus predicts that everyone will desert him. And in classic Peter fashion, he opens his big mouth and inserts his foot:
Peter declared, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.”
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.”
“No!” Peter insisted. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you!” And all the other disciples vowed the same.
In light of what we know about the rest of this story, Peter’s vow seems kind of pitiful. And we can only imagine his heartbreak after his third public denial of the night, fulfilling Jesus’ words. But as much attention as we give Peter, there were the rest of the disciples, making the same hollow vow.
Everyone promised Jesus they’d never leave him. And every single one of them did. Peter denied him with his words; others denied Jesus with their silence or absence. None of these denials were any more egregious than the other.
If we are honest, we all desert Jesus at some point, either by our words, our actions, or our silence. As disciples, we have great intentions. But fear or worry or pain or doubt cause us to abandon that aim in one way or another.
Which makes Jesus all the more amazing to me. Take John 13:1 for example:
Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.
He had loved them during his ministry. And now he loved them to the very end. And the end meant pain. Disgrace. Torture. Death. He who was abandoned chose not to abandon those he loved.
I used to think this was an oddly named day. “Good Friday” seemed like a misplaced moniker for a day focused on crucifixion and death. Shouldn’t it be “Bad Friday”? Or pick any other depressing term. Anything but good, right?
But it’s not the day that is so good.
Jesus is good. He’s not safe. Definitely not easy. He’s more than just nice or kind or gracious.
Jesus is good. And that goodness overcame death itself.
He loved his friends, so he endured the darkness. He loved his enemies, so he hung on a cross. He loved the world, so he carried the weight of sin.
Jesus is good.
And that goodness is now stuck to you like a stench you cannot wash away. His goodness pervades this world even when we choose to deny it.
Even in our silence.
Even in our denials.
Even when we’re bad, Jesus is good.
So on this holy Friday, rest easy. Be still. Celebrate. Rejoice. Because Jesus is good. And his goodness is enough to overcome even your greatest weakness or doubt. He will never leave or forsake you.
And that makes this Friday very, very good.