A Prayer about the “Good” of Good Friday
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day in Holy Week we call “Good Friday.” I’ve always felt conflicted about calling the day of your crucifixion “good.” That there had to be a day when you, the God who made us for yourself, would be made sin for us is not good at all.
But on the other hand, that you would so freely and fully give yourself for us on the cross, is never-to-be surpassed goodness, quintessential goodness—the goodness by which all other goodness is measured. There never has been, and there never will be, anything more deserving of the appellation “good” than your death for us on the cross.
For out of the same heart and the same mouth came these two cries from the cross: “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34) and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The first required the second and the second secured the first. Together, both of them buckle my knees, still my heart, and loose my tongue in glad adoration, of praise of such a God and such a gift. Yet how can I even begin to adequately express the wonder, love, and praise I feel in response to what you’ve done for us on the cross?
It’s like wanting to paint the most magnificent spring landscape I’ve ever seen, but with a palate of three colors and both of my arms in a cast. It’s like having a passion to write a great symphony in honor of you but knowing I’m just a kazoo player who doesn’t read music. It’s like desiring to cook you a great banquet with my microwave oven, a loaf of white bread, and a can of processed cheese.
There’s simply no way I can possibly offer a response congruent to the magnificence of your mercy and the measure of your grace for us at Calvary. So like everything else I have to offer you, Lord Jesus, take my humble praise and purify it, magnify it, and cause it to be a sweet aroma to the heart of God.
Lord Jesus, no one could ever take your life from you, and I could never find life on my own. Because you were fully forsaken, I am forever forgiven. Because you exhausted God’s judgment against my foul sin, I now live by the gift of your perfect righteousness. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! So very Amen I pray, in your all-glorious, all-gracious name.