So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless. 

For many people, Good Friday is a sad and gloomy day. We are presented with images and depictions of the crucifixion of Jesus, God’s only Son, someone who was completely innocent and undeserving of punishment. It was a supreme injustice, an outrage even. So yes, we should have a reflective attitude today—maybe even a somber attitude. But today is not a day to be gloomy.

Instead, let’s approach the passion and death of Jesus with gratitude and awe and adoration. Let’s gaze at our crucified Lord and expect to be startled, even to be rendered speechless, by what we see (Isaiah 52:15). Because as paradoxical as it may seem, the sheer agony and injustice of Jesus’ cross reveal the powerful and surprising beauty of our God.

The crucifixion of Jesus shows us that God’s love is so powerful that it can make even the evil of sin and death serve his perfect plan. It shows us that the goodness and strength of God’s desire to redeem us cannot be overturned, not even by the wicked scheming of the devil or the selfish desires of fallen human beings. No act of violence or deceit can ever thwart him.

It doesn’t seem possible that Jesus’ suffering could end in triumph. But even though Jesus was “marred . . . beyond human semblance,” God promised that he would be “raised high and greatly exalted” (Isaiah 52:13, 14). That’s where the surprise comes in: just when evil seems to have had the last word, good wins out!

When you contemplate the passion of the Lord today, remember that you know the end of the story. The ugliness of the suffering, pain, and rejection Jesus endured was real. But so is the redemption that he accomplished through it. So is the perfect culmination of God’s plan to forgive and redeem you. Death does not have the final word; life does. And that’s something truly beautiful!

“Jesus, as I consider your crucifixion and death today, may my heart exult with wonder at the beauty of your love.”

Psalm 31:2, 6, 12-13, 15-17, 25
Hebrews 4:14-16; 5:7-9
John 18:1–19:42
Isaiah 52:1-53:12


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