Heaven’s best is manifest in Friday’s worst.
G. Campbell Morgan on the historic revelation of God on Golgotha’s tree.
Today, according to the liturgical church calendar, is the day many often refer to as Good Friday. This is, perhaps, the most ironic name ever given to an ecclesiastical recognized day, especially when you consider this day from the perspective of those who were there. There was nothing “good” about that day. It was reprehensible from the wee morning hours when a supposed disciple betrayed his Teacher and his brothers with a kiss on the cheek. The day’s awful elements only continued from there, with ardent followers fleeing for their lives as their beloved Master was arrested, arraigned, and accused in a sham trial full of phony eye-witness accounts and manipulated evidence. His detractors did their darnedest to instigate a mob who cried out for his crucifixion, an indication that he was just disliked or dismissed, he was detested. All the while, his three-year-discipleship-program students cowered in fear or looked on from the shadows. No, there was nothing “good” about that day.
The longer the day transpired, the worse it got. The full gamut of shameful and tortuous blows were dealt to the Beloved One, with nary a protest or complaint emanating from his lips. His skin was ripped to shreds. His face was beaten and bruised. His entire person was assaulted and abused. The torment was so excruciating that “his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind” (Isa. 52:14). And, through it all, the crowd was cheering, as if they were getting the upper-hand in a death-match against God. Little did anyone there know or understand that this death-match was one to which God-in-the-flesh was voluntarily surrendering. Jacob knows (Gen. 32). The sights and smells and sounds of it all were the stuff you’d never want to remember but you’d never be able to forget. There was nothing “good” about that day.
And yet, as true as all that might be, the “good” of Good Friday was, even still, being revealed. Because even as the Romans and Judeans were inflicting their worst on Heaven’s Best, something deeper and truer than man’s depravity was, in that moment, being brought to light. It’s something renowned preacher G. Campbell Morgan terms “the historic revelation of the abiding facts within the heart of God.” You see, as sinners and soldiers and synagogue-goers relished as that backwoods Galilean was being ushered to a cross, something else was happening at the same time — namely, the fathomless love of the Godhead was being revealed. Morgan puts it like this:
The cross, like everything else, was manifestation. In the cross of Jesus there was the working out into visibility of eternal things. Love and light were wrought out into visibility by the cross. Love and light in the presence of the conditions of sin became sorrow — and became joy! In the cross I see the sorrow of God, and in the cross I see the joy of God, for ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise Him.’ In the cross I see the love of God working out through passion and power for the redemption of man. In the cross I see the light of God refusing to make any terms with iniquity and sin and evil. The cross is the historic revelation of the abiding facts within the heart of God. The measure of the cross is God. If all the measure of humanity is in God and He is more, and the measure of the cross is God, then the measure of the cross wraps humanity about so that no one individual is outside its meaning and its power. (1:322–23)
In that reprehensible cross, we are shown all the power and glory and grace and justice of heaven as “righteousness and peace kiss each other” in the person of the Crucified (Ps. 85:10). Sin is thrown back to the shadow as the One who knew no sin was made sin for a world full of sinners. The depths of the devil’s machinations are thwarted as the Prince of Heaven renders null all the works of darkness (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:5). On that day when nothing looked “good,” Good triumphed over evil once for all. Good Friday wasn’t a thing until Sunday came along. But when that day dawned, hope dawned, too. In fact, hope incarnate walked out of the grave.
Grace and peace, friends, and Happy Easter!
G. Campbell Morgan, The Westminster Pulpit: The Preaching of G. Campbell Morgan, Vols. 1–10 (Fincastle, VA: Scripture Truth Book Co., 1954).