Imagine sacrificing your life to rescue an enemy. In times of war this would be called treason. In times of peace we may tolerate our enemies, but we usually don’t embrace them; certainly we would not put our lives on the line to try to help them, and yet this is exactly what Jesus did.
Why would the Son of God love His enemies? That’s the puzzle of Good Friday. His interactions on the cross speak for itself. Here He is, in excruciating pain, and another man going through the same ordeal is insulting Him (Luke 23:39):
“One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: ‘Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!'”
Jesus is neither offended nor does He condemn the man. He is able to see past the insult. That’s the heart of grace. I believe His reaction was an eye-opener for another criminal bleeding on the cross. His name is unknown, but He was deeply moved by the Lord’s reaction and spontaneously defended Him. He didn’t mince words when he addressed the angry individual who insulted Jesus just moments ago. And when he later asks the Lord for a favor, Jesus answers kindly (Luke 23:43):
“Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’”
I love the fact that this man may have died condemned by men, but not condemned by the Lord. All this is possible because God loves everybody, including His enemies.
A revolution took place on the cross. Jesus extended a hand of mercy so that we can learn from Him. When it’s our turn to be merciful we make room for grace in our hearts. Grace turns a horrible Friday afternoon with condemned and bleeding individuals into a Good Friday – a Friday of hope with the Lord’s resurrection right around the corner.