One of the chief ways Biblical Christianity is unlike other philosophies and world religions is that it does not merely teach us how to be free of “the bad guy.” It tells us that we are the bad guy. This isn’t simply because of our limited natures, our lack of knowledge, or our being at the mercy of some other bigger bad guy. No, this is because we have chosen to like ourselves more than God. The Apostle Paul writes, “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful” (Rom. 1:21). And this is especially true of Good Friday. The religious leaders of Israel were not simply upset with Jesus for who he claimed to be. It was not as if they simply didn’t believe him. No, they actually recognized who Jesus was. They knew, deep within themselves, that he was the messiah. And they hated him for it.
As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, “If You are the Christ, tell us.”
But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you,you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?”
So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.”
And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
When Jesus says “If I tell you, you will by no means believe,” he doesn’t mean that this is because of the insufficiency of arguments or evidence. He’s talking about the will. The people will not believe. They will not allow themselves to believe. Jesus answered their questions, and all throughout the passion narratives you get the sense that the people know his answers are true. And this is what makes it all the worse for them. This is what they cannot bear.
In Matthew’s gospel we even see Pilate protesting about the justness of the crucifixion. He warns them that their action is wrong, and they respond with that chilling line: “His blood be on us and our children.” The people are willing to take the blame. They don’t care. Just get it done.
This is what is so weighty– so scary– about Christianity. It forces you to see yourself in “the other,” but I don’t mean the poor, misunderstood, other. I mean the bad other. Christianity forces you to see yourself in evil.
The Cross is where we crucified Jesus. No gospel is complete without that affirmation.
I don’t emphasize this point just to be morose. I don’t do it to put a guilt trip on you. I do it because this is the only way that Easter can begin, with Good Friday. You believe in Jesus. You know he is who he says he is. And so realize your sin. Confess it. And then give it all to Jesus, to be crucified forever on his cross.