Never before or since has more been lost and gained at the same time as at Jesus’ crucifixion. The world gained the atoning sacrifice of Christ. But for many of those present, their hearts broke because the One they believed to be the Savior of the world was dying at the hands of Rome. A mom lost a son, a friend lost a friend, a community lost a teacher and the apostles lost the person they placed their entire lives and hope in.
Growing up in church throughout most of my life, I felt as if I had to strive for the perfect formula of Christianity. There was a specific brand of the “perfect Christian” we all needed to be. It was necessary to memorize scriptures, go to church whenever the doors were open, wear the right type of clothes, talk the correct way, look a certain way, go to the right schools, hang out with these people and not those people, marry the right person, don’t do this, do that, don’t go there, it’s okay to go there, don’t drink that, don’t watch that, do that more and the list just goes on and on. So exhausting!!! And I’m sure there will be that one person that will say, “Is he saying it’s wrong to always go to church, memorize scripture or do all of those things…?” No! I’m not saying that. Think bigger here. I think what is wrong with the church in our culture today and even throughout my adolescence is…
We tell Christians more of what not to do than what to live for. Preach, preacher!
We pass out rules, guidelines and extortions of reprimands if we don’t walk the Christian walk in a straight line. The instant we slip, there stand the multitudes of trolls pointing their fingers in judgment of “You’re going to hell, “I thought you were a Christian” or “You’re a sinner.” Really? Jesus didn’t give his life on a cross for us to all sit around judging one another. The last time I checked, God’s word said we ALL fall short of the grace of God. God’s word didn’t say 25%, half or even 90% have fallen short – but ALL people. That’s you, me, your mama, your dad and even your Aunt Margaret, who hasn’t missed a church service in over 49 years – everyone! Not one single individual that has graced this playground we call Earth has ever walked a perfect life – besides Jesus. That’s it folks. Him. All Jesus. You’re not perfect. I’m in no way perfect. But He is.
When I think of Good Friday and the cross, I think of grace. I also think of the men that were hanging beside Jesus, specifically the thief. We discover the thief on the cross wasn’t perfect either and he recognized it. He distinguished that all of the bad decisions and wrong turns in his life led him to this second, beside Jesus. Can I tell you that there is no additional “work” required to accept the loving grace and redemption of Christ. Sorry, there’s just not. If you think there is, I encourage you to look at the thief hanging right beside a Savior. The thief on the cross is a reminder for those who worry, there’s additional work we need to do to earn grace. He did nothing but accept it. That’s it. Let that sink in for just a minute. He just accepted it. He accepted Jesus. He didn’t have to jump through hoops, climb certain mountains, join a church, go to lunch with the Pastor, memorize the law, serve in the community or sing the right song twice over – NO! Jesus didn’t take this opportunity to point out everything the thief had done wrong in his life either. Wow. That blows my mind right there. Here you have a thief who is coming to terms with everything bad he had done in life and here you have Jesus not bringing up one single thing he did wrong (sounds like the Church). Jesus didn’t tell him he was a sinner. The thief already knew it. Jesus didn’t point a finger at him. Nope. Jesus didn’t do this on the cross. He didn’t condemn this dude. He offered him something the world could never given him – grace, redemption and salvation. Even in His last moments, Jesus loved this man, who was not worthy of His love or grace. This thief didn’t deserve one ounce of what Jesus was giving, but Jesus gave it – freely! He wasn’t told what not to do, but WHO to live FOR his last moments! In those final few instants of the life of that thief, he was free. He was redeemed. He served nothing but simply accept the loving grace and redemption of Christ. Such amazing grace! Such an amazing Savior!
That same grace is available to us all today. Yup, you. You don’t have to go through any stupid membership classes, join a church, sign your name on a petition, slap a Jesus fish on your car or anything like that. And like the thief, Jesus isn’t going to sit here and go through a list of everything you did throughout your life either. “Yup, I see back in 1996, you did this. Come on Brad. How could you do that?” Jesus isn’t going to do that. He isn’t pointing a finger at you. He didn’t do it on a cross nor will He do it right now where you are. Nope. Today, just like the thief did, you can accept the loving redemption and grace of Jesus.
“But what if I’m not good enough?” You are.
“But what if I did that one thing a long time ago. How in the world will Jesus, forgive me of that.” He will.
“But what if just wait another day or week. I’ll do it then.” Tomorrow is promised to no one and today is the day of salvation.
“But what if I’m not okay with myself or love myself.” It’s okay to be okay. Jesus loves you exactly as you are – blemishes, flaws, imperfections, mistakes and all!
I encourage you on this Good Friday to not just look at what Jesus did on the cross, but also what He didn’t do.
Happy Good Friday! It is finished!