The Bad that Needs and Precedes Good Friday

I have a tendency to minimize my sin. I doubt I’m unique in this regard. I downplay my sin, both in specific sins, and in my general condition, how sinful I am. I have a variety of ways to do this: re-define it as excusable foibles, overlook its seriousness, compartmentalize sections of my life, tell myself that I’m forgiven and so it doesn’t matter as much, see myself as much more holy and transformed than I am.

The problem, among many, is that when I minimize my sin, at the same time I start thinking of myself more highly than I should. I imagine, usually implicitly but sometimes explicitly, that I’m a better person than is really the case. The people close to me likely see through this, but I struggle to.

And because I think of myself more highly, I don’t see or feel the need to push forward in becoming more Christ-like. I downplay the need to continue to grow in holiness. And in doing all this, I minimize Christ and defraud him.

So Good Friday is good for me in part because it’s bad. Slowing down to reflect on Jesus’ death on the cross means that I remember why he needed to die. Because of sin. And not just Sin with a capital S, but my sin. I remember that I’m still sinful, that I haven’t arrived, that Jesus died for my sins, the sins that I commit today, and those that I’ll do tomorrow, and the day after that.

It’s the perspective that Paul expressed in Galatians 2:21: if justification could come through the Law, then Christ died for nothing. What he means is that Christ’s death shows that obedience to the Law, doing the good that the Law requires, wasn’t actually leading to life. If it had been, then Christ wouldn’t have needed to die. It would have been superfluous. So the fact that Christ did die indirectly points to our inability to do what God requires. To reflect on Christ’s death requires that we also reflect and really grapple with our sin.

May Good Friday today be a chance for us truly to savor that it is good, that to be forgiven is an incredible thing, because we see at the same time how dark and ugly our sin really is.

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