Today is Good Friday, the day when the Christian world remembers the death of Jesus Christ. I remember as a small child watching the news one Good Friday and seeing throngs of people pushing their way thru the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem. There were even people who had lashed themselves to crosses and who were hanging as a sign of devotion to their faith. Understandably, it left me feeling very confused. I asked my mother why did we call it “Good Friday” if Jesus was killed this day. She said simply, “Because of all the “good” Jesus did for us today.” As I’ve grown older I’ve been able to learn for myself of the “Good Jesus did for us today.”
Two words I came across this week in my Come Follow Me study that helped me think of the “Good” Jesus has done were ransom and remission. In Matthew 26, we read about the Last Supper — it’s during this last night together, that Christ finished teaching the disciples about his work on the earth — that he is the Messiah. Christ institutes the ordinance of the sacrament.
In verse 26 it says, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it,and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.” My thoughts turned to our Sacrament hymn, “Reverently and Meekly Now”, “With my body on the tree I have ransomed even thee.” What is a ransom? Is it a sum of money or a payment made to release a prisoner. The resurrection paid the price for us to have our bodies back — so that they are not prisoner to the earth and elements, and so that we are not prisoner to the devil himself. But we don’t just get our bodies back, we get a perfectly whole, complete body, free from sickness and death. Alma teaches, “The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame.” (Alma 40: 23).
Christ completes the sacrament by teaching the disciples about his blood, “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26: 27-28). The word remission or the verb ‘to remit’ is a cancellation of a debt or penalty, or the payment of the debt. There are many places in the scriptures that teach us that the penalty for sin is too great to bear, and that if we do not repent, we’ll be stuck “drinking the bitter cup” ourselves. We don’t have to do that. Christ did that for us. All he asks is for our broken hearts and contrite spirits, that we repent and keep his commandments. That’s a pretty good deal.
Christ suffered this ransom and remittance in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then again on the cross. He endured beatings, verbal abuse, mockery, false trials, the conspiracy of his enemies, the betrayal of one of his disciples, the denial of another, and the humiliation of hanging on the cross — to ransom and remit us from death and sin.
So it is a Good Friday indeed. We have a Savior who loves us, we have the promise of the resurrection and the hope of eternal life with him and our Heavenly Father as we repent, keep our covenants and obey and live and love the commandments.
We’d also like to remind you of the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square Easter concert, “He Is Risen:A Sacred Easter Presentation”, Saturday, April 20 at 7:30pm MDT. Click the link for all of the viewing options.