Good Friday Reflections

What makes Good Friday “good”? Or, what is the meaning of Good Friday?

The first thing to say is that it is good only in light of Easter. Given the reality of Easter, it is good because it reveals the depth of God’s love and communicates that love to us in order to liberate us from Sin and Death and to give us life in abundance and life eternal.

‘Volumes have been written on this, including some by yours truly. Here are just a few reflections summarizing some of what I have written elsewhere at greater length:

1. The main purpose of Jesus’ death was to create the people of the new covenant, who would be empowered by the Spirit of God to resemble Jesus himself: faithful to God and loving toward their neighbors and enemies.

2. The cross is not only the source but also the shape of our salvation.

3. The cross reveals the love, power, wisdom, and justice of God, and it does so, paradoxically but powerfully, in weakness.

4. The cross is not only the signature of the Risen One (so Kaesemann), but also of the Holy One of Israel; that is, the cross is a theophany.

5. The fact that Jesus died as the Jewish Messiah on a Roman cross means that his death contains within it a political theology and spirituality.

6. When the cross is used for anything that contradicts its character as divine love, power, wisdom, and justice displayed in weakness, it is being used blasphemously.

7. When I survey the wondrous cross, love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.

2 Responses to “Good Friday Reflections”

  1. Brett G says:

    I like this very much. Thank you for sharing. I particularly like #1, but I wonder why Jesus had to die to create the people of the new covenant. Is his death a representative death, the death of Israel so that New Israel could be born? Or is it purely to show the people of the new covenant the way of the Lord: the way of the cross? Or something else? Why die to create a new people? Why not just teach to create a new people?

    What is salvation? Saved from what for what?

    Also, is there any room at all for substitution in your Christology?

    Thanks! I really appreciate your work.

  2. MJG says:

    Hi, Brett,

    Thanks for the comment. I don’t know that we can ever answer the question about “had to die.” The NT does not fully explain the “why,” but stresses the “that,” interpreted from a variety of perspectives. My point in #1 is to posit the formation of a new covenant people as the primary significance of the atonement, over against the standard theories/models.

    For salvation, please read my article in the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible.

    Substitution? There are certainly parts of the NT that use such language, but it is not the only language, or even the central language, for the atonement.

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