Good Friday. It seems that nothing less than your spiritual best can qualify you to worship on such a day. A day of gory splendor such as this calls for heartfelt pangs of conviction and heartwarming expressions of gospel praise. Dressed in white robes or with the flashing brightness of the angels, you may come. Dressed in the happy garb of springtime, head upraised in joyful procession, you may come. Carefully groomed, neatly pressed, all put together, you may come.
But I do not suppose that Good Friday is only for these, or mainly for these, or for these at all. No, this is where the filthy come to wash our garments white, where the wretched come to find undeserved love, where the estranged come to find reconciliation. We come to worship, yes, but we come to be healed, to be washed, to be forgiven. We come for mercy. And in our desperate receiving of this mercy is our worship.
So if you are under trial, come. He was tried for you. If you find yourself accused, welcome. He was accused for you. If your burdens are heavy, come. He carried the crossbeam for you. If your road is hard, come. He walked the Calvary Road for you. If your critics are many, come. He was mocked and ridiculed for you. If you feel forsaken, come. He was forsaken for you. On Good Friday, if your songs are songs of lament, come. Never was there a lament like his.
I say again, lest it go unsaid: If you are downcast, come. He was cast down for you. If you find your soul downtrodden — whether you know why or not — come. He was trodden down for you. And if you find your heart as empty and cold as the cold, empty tomb, come. It was emptied for you.
This is the meaning of Good Friday. Not that we come to worship because we are doing well, or because we are well. No, we come because our Savior has done all things well. Oh, we will read and sing and pray today, and rightly so, for a death like this is worthy of all our admiration and allegiance. We will awake on the third day and put on our suits and our ties and our pastels and gather to celebrate with our brothers and sisters, and rightly so, for these days carry worthy traditions.
But in it all, let us remember that it is not our worthiness or our preparedness or the warmth of our spirits that gives us access to the throne room of the God we come to worship. It is the blood of the God-Man Jesus Christ, poured out on the hardened ground outside the gates of Jerusalem, that has opened the way for us. It is the linen wrappings, the bare rock-carved shelf, the stone rolled away, that signal our freedom. We worship, not mainly because we are doing well, but because our wellness is not dependent on our feelings and circumstances and performances. We worship because sin has been forgiven and death has been conquered. So even if today is not a day of happiness, it is a day of celebration. Even if today there is little joy, it is nevertheless a day of rejoicing.