I write this on Good Friday. It is the Friday afternoon at the close of a difficult week. Not difficult because of difficult circumstances but difficult because of a funk and things said and a migraine and failure and sin and, well, you get the picture.
Weeks like this remind me why I need Good Friday. Today Christians remember and commemorate the death of Jesus, which is weird, if you think about it, that we celebrate death but that’s exactly what we do. We celebrate the death of Jesus because without it we come to the end of a difficult week or a difficult day or a difficult phone call or a difficult season or a difficult conversation or a difficult diagnosis and we have no hope.
It is easy and, I think, common to glance over Good Friday to get to the joy of Resurrection Sunday. Good Friday becomes incidental to the real show. Of course the Resurrection is the hope and foundation of our faith, yes and amen, glory to God. Paul says that without it, we are pitied because our faith then is in vain.
But today I feel the despair of my sin. I see my weakness and my utter depravity. I know–I know–that my sin is real and my utter insufficiency overwhelms me. I need the truth that Jesus resolutely set His face to His death, that by one sacrifice He paid it all, that here is the love of God demonstrated in that Christ died for sinners. This is the goodness of Good Friday–that Jesus, my Savior, has borne my griefs and carried my sorrows and healed me by His wounds. Yes, please, Lord.
I pulled my copy off The Valley of Vision off the shelf to put word to my need…
I have destroyed myself,
my nature is defiled,
the powers of my soul are degraded;
I am vile, miserable, strengthless,
but my hope is in thee.
If ever I am saved it will be by goodness undeserved and astonishing,
not by mercy alone but by abundant mercy,
not by grace but by exceeding riches of grace;
And such thou has revealed, promised, exemplified
in thoughts of peace, not of evil.
Thou has devised means
to rescue me from sin’s perdition,
to restore me to happiness, honour, safety.
I bless thee for the everlasting covenant,
for the appointment of a Mediator.
I rejoice that he failed me not, nor was discouraged,
but accomplished the work thou gavest him to do;
and said on the cross, ‘It is finished.’
I exult in the thought that
thy justice is satisfied,
thy truth established,
thy law magnified,
and a foundation is laid for my hope.
I look to a present and personal interest in Christ and say,
Surely he has borne my griefs,
carried my sorrows,
won my peace,
healed my soul.
Justified by his blood I am saved by his life,
Glorying in his cross I bow to his sceptre,
Having his Spirit I possess his mind.
Lord, grant that my religion may not be occasional and partial,
but universal, influential, effective,
and may I always continue in thy words as well as thy works,
so that I may reach my end in peace.
-“The Mediator,” The Valley of Vision