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A Prayer about the Good of Good Friday
And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matt. 27:46     
     Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the painfully glorious day in Holy Week we call “Good Friday.” I’ve always felt somewhat conflicted about calling the day of your crucifixion “good.” On one hand, it seems quite insensitive and self-serving. That there had to be a day when you, the God who made us for yourself, would be made sin for us is not good at all. The necessity of your cross underscores the crisis of our condition, the “badness” of our brokenness, the darkness of the day.
     But on the other hand—the bigger hand, that you freely and fully give yourself for us on the cross is quintessential, archetypal, never-to-be surpassed goodness. There never has been and there never will be anything more deserving of the appellation “good” than your death for us, Lord Jesus.
     For out of the same heart and the same mouth came these two cries from the cross: “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34) and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The first required the second. The second secured the first. Taken together, both of them buckle my knees, still my heart, and loose my tongue for proclaiming the greatness of your glory and grace.
     How can I begin to offer you worthy worship in response to what you’ve accomplished for us on the cross? It’s like wanting to paint the most magnificent landscape I’ve ever seen, but with a palate of three colors and both of my arms in a cast. It’s like having a passion to write a great symphony in honor of you but knowing I’m just a kazoo player who doesn’t read music. It’s like desiring to cook you a great banquet with my microwave oven, a loaf of white bread, and a can of processed cheese.
     There’s no way any of us can possibly offer a response congruent to the magnificence of your mercy and the measure of your grace for us at Calvary. So like everything else we have to offer you, Jesus, take our humble praise and purify it, magnify it, and cause it to be a sweet aroma in your heart. “This, the pow'r of the cross: Son of God—slain for us. What a love! What a cost! We stand forgiven at the cross.”
     No one could ever take your life from you, and we could never find life on our own. Because you were fully forsaken, we are forever forgiven. Because you exhausted God’s judgment against our foul sin, we now live by the gift of your perfect righteousness. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! So very Amen we pray, in your all-glorious, all-gracious name.