Today is a day celebrated around the world by Christians called Good Friday. Why is it so good? To fully understand the context of this historic day, when Jesus went to the Cross, we must understand a little about the day as begun in the Old Testament. Remember, that this week is the week of Passover for the Hebrew community. Thousands of Jews dispersed across the Roman Empire would have gathered in Jerusalem, the only place to offer this sacrifice. This was a traditional ordinance begun by God Himself, when He rescued the people out of slavery. These themes are very helpful to fully grasp the significance of Good Friday.
The Tenth Plague
Now the LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you. Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, “On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.
Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. And you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight. Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat. And they shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but what ever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.
Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the LORD’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the LORD. And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. And on the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you.
You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of land. You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said to them, “God and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb.”
The images of Judgment, Covering, Blood, Sacrifice, Unblemished Lamb, Salvation, freedom, and Slavery are all here in the narrative. God is coming in Judgment over the people of Egypt and their Gods, yet He is going to Cover His people by the Blood of another through Sacrifice of an unblemished (purity)lamb and in this act He has saved them and they will be freed from Slavery. There is another day given to Israel that is filled with this very same imagery. After traveling to Mount Sinai the Israelites receive the Ten Commandments (Moral Law), the many other commandments (Civil Law), and the tabernacle (Sign of His presence). After this they receive the commandments covering sacrifice and worship (Ceremonial Law) in the often-skipped book of Leviticus. Here we see a ceremony directly related to Good Friday.
This is taking place in the tabernacle which was broken into different sections. Outside there was an altar for sacrifice and a basin for washing. Inside the entrance to the tent there was a room where innocence was burnt. Here the priests could all go. However, there was a final compartment separated by a large veil where the Ark of the Covenant and the Book of the Law was held. Here was where God’s presence would dwell, and only on man, on one day could go in to offer sacrifice. This is that sacrifice.
Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement)
Now the LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they had approached the presence of the LORD and died. And the LORD said to Moses, “Tell your brother Aaron that he shall not enter at any time into the holy place inside the veil, before the mercy seat which is on the ark, lest he die; for I will appear in the cloud over the mercy seat. Aaron shall enter the holy place with this: with a bull or a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He shall take from the congregation of the sons of Israel two male goats for a sin offering and one ram for a burnt offering. Then Aaron shall offer the bull for the sin offering which is for himself, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household. And he shall take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the dooray of the tent of meeting. And Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats, one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat.
Then Aaron shall offer the goat on which the lot for the LORD fell, and make it a sin offering. But the goat on which the lot for the scapegoat fell, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, to send it into the wilderness as the scapegoat. Then Aaron shall offer the bull of the sin offering which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his household, and he shall slaughter the bull of the sin offering which is for himself. And he shall take a firepan full of coals of fire from upon the altar before the LORD, and two handfuls of finely ground sweet incense, and bring it inside the veil. And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the ark of the testimony, lest he die. Moreover, he shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; also in front of the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.
Then he shall slaughter the goat of the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil, and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. And he shall make atonement for the holy place, because of the impurities of the sons of Israel, and because of their transgressions, in regard to all their sins; and thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities. When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel. Then he shall go out to the altar that is before the LORD and make atonement for it, and shall take some of the blood of the bull and of the blood of the goat, and put it on the horns of the altar on all sides. And with his finger he shall sprinkle some of the blood on it seven times, and cleanse it, and from the impurities of the sons of Israel consecrate it. When he finishes atoning for the holy place, and the tent of meeting and the altar, he shall offer the live goat.
Then Aaron shall lay both of his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the sons of Israel, and all their transgressions in regard to all their sins; and he shall lay them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who stands in readiness. And the goat shall bear on itself their iniquities to a solitary land; and he shall release the goat in the wilderness.
Again, certain themes are flowing throughout this narrative: Sinfulness (Iniquity), Holiness, Cleansing, Separation, Mediation, Blood, Sacrifice, Mercy, Atonement, Removal of sins, and Imputation (transferal, scapegoating). The Israelites were a sinful people who could not approach a Holy God freely for only the High Priest could approach Him and only after being Cleansed. They were Separated from God by the veil which was a symbol of the separation that occurs due to sin. Only one man who was the Mediator between God and the people could approach God with a sacrifice for the people. The blood of this sacrifice was to be placed on the Mercy seat of God showing His grace upon them in offering atonement. Furthermore, those sins also had to be placed upon another to bear them because the people could not bear them themselves, they were then removed from Israel through an act of transferal of guilt upon another (the scapegoat) also known as imputation.
Now that we understand these Old Testament ceremonies we can now trace these themes forward into the New Testament. Here are all the themes covered in the above narratives.
Judgment, Covering, Blood, Sacrifice, Unblemished Lamb, Salvation, freedom, Slavery, Sinfulness (Iniquity), Holiness, Cleansing, Separation, Mediation, Blood, Sacrifice, Mercy, Atonement, and Imputation (transferal, scapegoating).
All of these are found in Christ on the cross on this day 2,000 years ago.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5-6 predicting Christ)
Covering for Sin
Now to the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing upon the man to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works: Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD will not take into account. (Romans 4:4-8)
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, he entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the bood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works. (Hebrews 9:11-14)
For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives. Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. (Hebrews 9:16-18)
For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us; nor was it that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the holy place year by year with blood not his own. Otherwise, He would have need to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. (Hebrews 9:24-26)
Upon seeing Jesus John the Baptist proclaims,
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Peter tells us as believers:
And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:17-21)
Before the birth of Jesus, the Angels proclaim of Him,
And she shall bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins. (Matthew 1:21)
It is for freedom that Christ se us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, You shall become free? Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. (John 8:33-36)
As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace have they not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, that every mouth may be closed, and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; (Romans 3:10-22)
He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification. (Romans 5:25)
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.
For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and form the glory of His power, (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)
And for this reason (see Hebrews 9:11-14) He (Jesus) is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. (Hebrews 9:15)
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:5-7)
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10)
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26)
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3)
Removal of Sin
And you know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. (1 John 3:5)
And He himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (1 Peter 2:24-25)
There are far more verses and themes to connect to the events on this momentous day. We also must remember that the cross is incomplete if not followed by the resurrection and ascension of Christ into all authority. For Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:14) Also, the mediation we receive from Christ is made after He ascends into heaven, for it was better for Him to go than to stay (Matthew 26: 24). However, Christ satisfied the wrath of God on the cross when He paid for our sins. He obtained an eternal redemption on the cross that was finally completed when he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:3). In light of all these things we must proclaim our loud Amen! There is nothing needed for us to do, for Christ has done it all. He has come down to save you from your sin, and He has already accomplished everything! Amen to the work of Christ on the cross as He breathes His last breath!
When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household. After this, Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I am thirsty.”
A jar full of sour wine was standing there; so they put a sponge full of the sour wine upon a branch of hyssop, and brought it up to His mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, “it is finished!” And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit. (John 19:26-30)