This is Good Friday, and while the most heinous crime in history took place on this day, the most gracious act in history also occurred.
First, the crime: a group of Jews and Romans, both Jews and Gentiles, put the most innocent man in history to death for crimes he did not commit, in the most heinous way. The reason I stress that both Jews and Gentiles put Christ to death is because there are some today who hold animosity toward the Jews for putting Him to death. The problem with this is that those who hold such views would have done the same thing had they been there on that day. Our hearts are evil enough that had Perfect Righteousness stood before us and we had the option to put it to death, we would have joined in the chorus of: “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” If you believe otherwise about yourself, you are merely fooling yourself about the level of sinfulness in your heart.
We must also realize that the Jews and Gentiles where our representatives at the trial of God. They were our representatives for us, showing us how we would have responded had we been able to put God on trial. Even when we found God innocent of any crime, real or imagined, we would have taking the same path that Pontius Pilate did.
Second, His innocence: So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no fault in this Man.” The one in charge of the trial found Jesus innocent. He declared Christ as He truly was, an innocent man. He had committed no crime, no sin, no peccadillo. This is vital to all Christians, both today and forever. Jesus needed to be declared innocent of the charges, so that we know He is our acceptable sacrifice on the cross since He is our Passover.
For those who know, the Passover was celebrated at the time of Christ’s death. The blood of the lamb would be shed as a reminder that during the Exodus, the angel of death passed over the homes that had the sign of the Passover, namely, the blood of a lamb on the doorposts of their homes. Their salvation from the angel of death came because of the shed blood of the lamb. However, the blood of bulls and goats is not sufficient to take away their sin, they needed a man to die in their place, one without sin, so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for them, and us.
This is why Pilate’s declaration of Christ innocence is so important. He declared to those on that day, and all the world, that Christ was innocent and there was no fault in Him. But, being the man afraid of the Jews and his authorities in Rome, he turned his back on Christ and let the crime of putting an innocent man to death go forward.
Since Christ was innocent of the charges leveled against Him, and any other sin, this made His death the most heinous crime in all of mankind’s history.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
The beauty of this is that God was able to take the most heinous crime in history and use it for the good of His people. By allowing Christ to die, He opened the door for our sins to be pardoned. No matter who we are, we have sinned against the most Holy and True God. This means that we owe a debt to Him and the debt of our sin must be paid for. Since we have sinned against an eternal being, then the debt that must be paid must be eternal in nature as well.
In steps the God-Man. Most would readily admit that Jesus was a man, with flesh and blood just like us. But He also had to be fully God as well. This is why the incarnation is so vital to the gospel. The Second Person of the Trinity became flesh and dwelt among us. Not only was the man crucified that day, but also His divine nature. This is how His death completely satisfied the wrath of God. He not only paid for our sins, with His sinless death, but He also satisfied that eternal nature of our debt by being an eternal being as well. Now, I’m not saying that the eternal nature of Christ died. The Scripture doesn’t say one way or another. What I am saying is that He satisfied God’s wrath against us in every possible way.
Therefore when we trust in Christ for our salvation, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us, and our sin is imputed to His work on the cross. Complete forgiveness is achieved by His work for us. This means that the alienation we all had with God is removed when we believe in Him. No longer are we aliens and strangers with God, but we are brought into fellowship with Him through the sacrificial death of His Son. This is why this day is called good Friday. While man’s action lead to death, His actions lead to eternal life and reconciliation with the Father. Only God can bring about true goodness out of something so wicked. While Jesus died, and we should lament this reality, we can rejoice because God meant it for good.