A few weeks ago our bathroom fan stopped working. After a couple weeks of it being broken, I finally had a day off with some time to devote to this project. I measured the current unit, went to the store to find one roughly the same size, and came home to replace it. I told Kirstyn it would be up in twenty or thirty minutes.
Twenty or thirty minutes later, I gave up. It was not for a lack of trying or lack of perseverance that I gave up. I was met with the humbling reality that I did not know what I was doing, and I did not have the right tools for the job. I needed someone to fix the problem for me. I needed someone to save me.
It can be difficult for me to admit that I need help. I like to be able to figure things out on my own. I like to come up with the solution. I like to be the one who overcomes the problem and achieves success. But the humbling reality is that I cannot save myself.
Bob Kauflin, Director of Sovereign Grace Music, describes a period of his life where he let pride take over. He was focussed on what he could achieve. He was searching for an audience. The result was a difficult season of life. He felt hopeless, but a friend told him he wasn’t hopeless enough. He knew this was true: “I understood that I couldn’t save myself. I just didn’t think of myself as a very great sinner. Which meant I didn’t need a very great saviour.”¹
If we do not see ourselves as great sinners, if we feel that we have no need for a great saviour, Good Friday confronts us strongly. We are presented with Jesus, our Creator God in human flesh, crucified on a cross. We are told this was a sacrifice for our sins. This is our salvation, and we had nothing to do with it. If we want to be able to save ourselves, we are told that the salvation story is not our story. Eugene Peterson says, “The salvation story is a God story. It is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is also God doing this in his own way and not in our dictates or preferences.”² Salvation is not our doing. It is not our command. We did nothing to accomplish it.
And when we look at what Jesus did on the cross for us, we come to understand how great this salvation is. We read in 1 Peter 2:24: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (ESV)
He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross. We need to understand the weight of this statement. If we don’t think of ourselves as very great sinners, then we may miss the significance. But if we realize how great an act of salvation this is, we may appreciate Good Friday differently.
I offer as an illustration Psalm 5. David gives us a list describing how God has no contact with wickedness, how he hates iniquity, how he holds no connection with anyone who kills, lies, deceives. Not even the boastful can stand before him. The list starts in verse 4:
For you are not a god who delights in wickedness,
Evil does not sojourn with you.³
Many English translations read something like “no evil dwells with you.” But יָשַׁב (yāšab), the Hebrew word meaning dwell, is not used here. The word גּוּר (gûr) is used. This word also means to dwell, but with a designation. It means to dwell as an alien, a foreigner; to sojourn. In a list of how far removed God is from any wrongdoing, the writer takes it even further. Evil is so foreign and alien to God that it cannot even sojourn with him.
And yet, this God, who doesn’t even let evil sojourn with him, bore the sins of the world upon himself. Jesus bore all of our lies, our deceit, our wickedness, our boastfulness–all of which is completely foreign and alien to him–so that we would have salvation. He carried our brokenness so that we would be able to dwell with God once again. On the cross, Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus is our great saviour.
Jesus bore all of our lies, our deceit, our wickedness, our boastfulness–all of which is completely foreign and alien to him–so that we would have salvation.
This is the reality we face this Good Friday. Jesus dying to save us. With the cross before us, how do we respond? Psalm 5 offers us one way in which we can respond:
But I, by your abundant kindness, I will enter your house,
I will bow down at your holy temple in reverence of you.
After the list of all the ways in which evil does not sojourn with God, the poet writes that it is by God’s abundant kindness that we come to him. And we respond in holy reverence. So may we take some time this Good Friday to reflect on our great Saviour. And may we, by his abundant kindness–his salvation for us–come to him in reverence.
¹ Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 25.
² Eugene Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places: A Conversation in Spiritual Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 153.
³ Translations of Psalm 5 are mine.