We call this day Good Friday, and it is good that we do. This was a day of darkness foreordained by the good pleasure of God, the day on which He determined to do whatever it might take to secure the salvation of the world.
But the fact that it was good and holy in its purpose and intent, and was good for us, as all God’s blessings are, did not prevent it from being hard as sin, and as black as the hearts of the men who condemned Him.
One of the best ways for us to evaluate what kind of day this actually was would be through looking at how Jesus Christ anticipated it. The night of His arrest, He was in an olive grove called Gethsemane, across the Kidron Valley, opposite Jerusalem. The Lord’s submission there to the cup given to Him by His Father is justly famous, but there are a few additional details the gospel writers tell us in the description that will help us to understand our salvation more fully.
Before considering these phrases, remember that Jesus was a man who had spent His entire ministry, over the course of three years, as one who was always in complete control. He was the master of every situation. If a crowd wanted to throw Him off a cliff, He walked through them. If He was asleep in the bottom of a boat, and a tempest arose, He would tell the wind and waves what to do. If a leper came to Him, He would touch the leper and cleanliness would spread to the leper, instead of uncleanness spreading the other way. If He needed to walk across the Sea of Galilee, He would do so. If the chief theological logic choppers of the nation came to trap Him with questions, He deflected all their stratagems easily, as though they were cobwebs in a doorway. If He met a disreputable woman, He knew exactly what to say and do. He could tell people to roll away a stone so that a man who had been dead four days could obey Him and come out. In short, His disciples had never seen Him in over His head. The world had never seen such mastery. Never.
Christ was the final Israel. He was Israel, the obedient Son. And as an obedient Son, all the blessings of Deuteronomy were in the palm of His hand by right. “And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God” (Deut. 28:1–2). This was the secret of His mastery. This is the reason all the blessings of God pursued Him wherever He went. This was how He did His miracles—not as God in disguise doing tricks for the children, but rather as a Spirit-empowered Israelite. He had all the authority that flowed from obedience.
But something in the Garden of Gethsemane threatened to undo Him.