Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Good Friday Homily

Colossians 1:19-20 (NKJV)19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

This evening we celebrate Good Friday, the day on which our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified nearly two thousand years ago. A frequent question asked and answered on this day is, “Why call it Good Friday?” We often answer this question in terms of why the cross was good for us. In the cross, we are forgiven, we are cleansed, we are restored. And of course these things are very true and biblical. This day is good because it was and is good for us.

Paul, however, in the text before us today encourages us to consider another reason Good Friday should be called Good. And the reason proceeds from God’s attitude toward this particular event. Good Friday should be reckoned Good because it pleased God to orchestrate the event. God calls this day Good and so we should too. Notice that Paul says “it pleased the Father” – it gave Him delight, satisfaction, fulfillment.

What exactly is it that pleased the Father? What is the “it” of which Paul speaks? Paul draws attention to two things. First, it pleased the Father for all the fullness of deity to dwell in our Lord Jesus Christ. It was no accident that the Second Person of the Trinity assumed human flesh for us. He did so because it pleased the Father. Before the foundation of the world, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in eternal communication and fellowship with one another planned our redemption, planned the Incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, planned His death on the cross, planned His resurrection to new life. Our redemption was not some afterthought; no plan B; no accidental insurance plan. It was the very plan that delighted the Father before the foundation of the world and that continued to delight Him when our Lord Jesus Christ took on human flesh.

But Paul doesn’t stop here. Not only was the Incarnation of our Lord pleasing to the Father, so too is the effect of that Incarnation on the world. This second point is directly connected with Good Friday. Paul says that it pleased the Father through the death of Jesus on the cross to reconcile all things to Himself.

Recall that at the beginning of human history things went awry at a tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan triumphed over man at the foot of a tree and ever since man was subject to slavery and death. But not only was man subject to slavery and death, the creation too was subject to decay and destruction. All things were put out of joint. The whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. The original vision for creation was warped and marred by the evil one through Adam’s failure at the tree.

And so, Paul tells us, the great delight of the Father was to reconcile all things to Himself through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ – all things. Jesus didn’t simply come to reclaim sinners; he came to reclaim the world. To reconcile all things to himself – whether things in heaven or on earth or under the earth. All has been reconciled and eagerly awaits the full revelation of the sons of God. On the cross, the new tree of life, our Lord Jesus Christ put to death the devil and overthrew his works, dealing the mortal blow to death and slavery. In the garden we perished at a tree; in Christ we live through the tree.

So why is Good Friday Good? Because on this day, our Lord Jesus Christ went voluntarily to the cross, humbled Himself, that He might rescue the creation and demonstrate the full glory of our Triune God – the very God who planned our redemption before the foundation of the world.