Why do we celebrate on Good Friday? Should we be mourning instead like Catholics do? Should we be sad and depressed because we remember the death of Jesus? And speaking of the death of Jesus, why did he die? Did he have to die? It’s good to ask the “Why?” questions. We have to be careful not to be too comfortable with our traditions and fall into a mindless routine every year at Easter. Keep reading as we will look at answers to those questions.
One of the reasons Jesus died is because of the wrath of God. If God wasn’t angry at sin, there would be no Good Friday to celebrate. The word wrath means anger. God’s wrath is consistent and pure. It is His Holy, Righteous and Just reaction to sin, the only proper reaction for the One who is Himself Holy, Righteous and Just.
What is the cause of God’s Wrath? Why is God angry at us? It’s because of our sins. It’s because of our rebellion against Him. It’s because we say “No!” to God. Instead of obeying Him, we do what we want to do.
All people, being sinners, are the objects of God’s wrath. Psalm 7:11 says “God is a just judge. And God is angry with the wicked every day”. Ephesians 2:3 reminds us that before we became Christians we were all children of wrath. And in Colossians chapter 3 we read “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” We tend to forget the wrath of God because it is not something tangible, we can’t take a picture of it with our camera.
Many mistakenly think that because God does not immediately act against them in judgment, they have escaped His judgment. They may even think that God is as carefree about sin as they are, and so they sin all the more. But they only guarantee for themselves a more severe judgment when God’s wrath finally falls upon them.
I am glad that at Emmanuel Baptist Church we regularly hear about God’s wrath, and especially on Good Friday. Sadly, many don’t hear about God’s wrath, not even on Good Friday. That has also been my experience. Growing up, I have often heard an emphasis placed on the physical suffering of Jesus. How much He suffered because of the whipping, how much he suffered because of the nails in His hands and in His feet, and I heard about how horrible death by crucifixion was. Don’t get me wrong, there is horrible suffering brought by these things. But most sermons stop there. And if you stop there, you miss the Gospel, you miss the “Good” in Good Friday. We are not saved because Jesus had nails in His hands. We are not saved because Jesus died of asphyxiation on the cross. We are saved because He took the wrath of God for us! His body was broken for us! God crushed Jesus instead of us! Jesus took our place! He took our punishment. He suffered for all those who would ever believe in Him.
Many other people besides Jesus were whipped. Many other people were crucified and had nails in there hands. But none of those people died for me. None of those people could. Only Jesus is the sinless Lamb of God who could appease God’s anger toward us.
You might say “Wait a minute! What’s up with all that talk about God being angry at us? The Bible says that God is Love. After all, 1 John 4:16 says “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”” Yes, one of God’s attribute is Love. Another one of God’s attributes is Justice, and because of His Justice He must punish sin. God’s attribute of Love and Justice are not opposites, but instead they come together perfectly. John 3:16 and 17 says “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” But those who refuse to trust in Jesus as their substitute must bear God’s wrath themselves. John 3:36 says “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Romans 5 verses 8 and 9 says: “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
As you are celebrating Good Friday, my fellow believers, remember the wrath of God. Remember Christ’s body broken under the wrath of God for you. Remember the sinless blood of Jesus that was spilled as a payment for your sins to satisfy God’s Holy wrath against you. Remember the Gospel. God treated Jesus on the cross as if it was you and I hanging there. Jesus Christ willingly took the punishment we deserve. And through His death, we have peace with God. Glory to God!