The Good News of Good Friday

In Mark 12:1-12, Jesus tells the story of a landowner who plants a new vineyard and then leases it to tenant farmers while he travels to a distant country. When harvest time arrives, he sends his emissary to the farmers to collect the money from the crop. But these tenants beat the representative and send him back to the owner empty-handed. He sends another who is summarily beaten over the head and then a third one whom they kill. He sends others who receive the same deplorable treatment. Finally, he sends his dearly loved son believing they will surely treat him with with respect, However, he is met with same fate, is murdered and his body is unceremoniously thrown into the vineyard.

Then Jesus asks the his listeners, "What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do?" Of course, everyone knew the logical answer...but Jesus goes on to answer for them. "He will give them what they deserve...he will kill them!" Then He quotes a passage of the Jewish Bible, Psalm 118:22&23, "The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see." Immediately, the religious leaders knew Jesus was referring to them, but they were also afraid of the crowd, so they went away, no doubt to seethe and scheme among themselves.

It doesn't take too much imagination to connect the dots between this story and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In many ways we might even call it a prophecy of what was going to happen to Jesus on Good Friday. That was the day when those who were supposed to working the vineyard of God co-conspired with the Roman government to kill the dearly loved Son of God the Father. And this Son dies unceremoniously at the hands of these evil murderers and now they must face their judgment! "He was despised and they did not care! He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before His shearers, He did not open His mouth."

When He did open His mouth, He words were inconceivable! "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing." What kind of judgment was this? This is the judgment that comes with the new Kingdom built on this rejected cornerstone. The judgment of the God Who was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people's sins against them! (2 Corinthians 5:19) This is judgment that takes away sins through forgiveness and not condemnation. Sins must be exposed and cured and acknowledged and healed. This isn't a pleasant process. But it is a process of redemption and not condemnation. 

So, on Good Friday, as Jesus dies on the cross, it is for the forgiveness and the redemption of the sins of everyone. And it is wonderful to see! Too often the evangelical teachers of the Bible have misrepresented God's judgment as destructive and wrathful towards individuals and humanity. Nothing is farther from the truth. His wrath is poured out toward the SIN which has led to the ruination of individuals and humanity. His purposes are for the redemption of every person who has ever lived, including you...and your worst enemy!

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