Good Friday: Confession at The Cross
At the moment Jesus breathed his last breath, one of the Roman soldiers who helped fasten him to the cross uttered the surprising confession, “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” This soldier, in many ways, represents each of us, who, at one moment, blindly hammer away in the darkness of deception only to, in the next moment, be awakened to see the weight of our sin in the light of truth.
And so it is, this soldier is every Christian. With bloodstained hands and blackened hearts we have sinned more passionately than we have believed. The sin that drives us to action is haulted by a faith that leaves us in paralysis. Gathered round the cross is a great cloud of witness, frozen in fear by the severity of our own confession. We have just discovered God, just after we have killed him. This spectacle, only dreamt of in ancient mythology, becomes a reality before our eyes: humanity has conquered God. But just as soon as he is gone we somehow realize that our victory is precisely our judgment; that our preference to godlessness is precisely our hell; that the enterprise of human rebellion is avenged precisely by its success. And yet it is in this judgment, in this hell, in the heart of our rebellion that we also discover grace.
The cross is for us the truest mirror. In it we see at once a love that is furious enough to die for another and a sin that is furious enough to kill for itself. The cross and the soldier face the world and show us both who God is and we are. He is Christ and we have killed Him. “Truly, this man was the Son of God!” And the absurdity of all this is that we are only required to recognize who God is in Christ and who we are in the soldier to take hold of the grace of this death.
Today, let us venture back cross-side and allow ourselves to stand under its judgment and its grace, acknowledging that it is there we discover both our need for grace and our access to it. It is that moment when the lightening from heaven illumines the darkest day in human history with the truth of human sinfulness, when the execution of a guilty criminal is shown to be the murder of a righteous man, and worse—God help us—the murder of a Holy God. “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”
Today, join in with the great cloud of witnesses to pray the only appropriate prayer to follow the revelation of such a Good and Terrible Friday: Truly, this man was the Son of God! O God, have mercy on me a sinner.