Since I'm a Protestant Christian the cross was always depicted as empty, so when my 3-year-old son came upon a Crucifix in a religious bookstore he picked it up and held it up to me with a horrified look on his face. I'll never forget that look--innocence coming in contact with the cruelties of life. Even now I cannot post a picture depicting Jesus nailed to a wooden beam....
When I was a child I listened in on adult conversations that blamed the Jews for Jesus' death. Even then I could not understand how they could be "blamed" when God had intended it all along. Right? Jesus died for my sins because I needed to be saved. That's why it was called Good Friday and not Bad Friday. And why I accepted that gift of salvation and went before the congregation and was baptized when I was just 8. It was a child's simple faith. That afternoon we had dinner at our neighbor's and I helped dry her good dishes and when I almost dropped one, I just knew it was God who helped me catch it before it fell to the floor. And two weeks later I took my best friend into her walk-in closet and sat on the floor under her dresses hanging above and witnessed to her from the little red book of John I'd been given. And she went forward in her church.
It took another 20 years, though, before I found out about the Holy Spirit--the rest of the story. Until then I'd tried in vain to be good--to love in the way I knew I should because if I was to be a Christian I must love everybody. But I didn't. And least of all myself because I couldn't. The next 20 years were spent growing in my knowledge of the Holy Spirit and how He worked....through Bible study and life experiences. And then, finally, I began to experience the Holy Spirit in a way that made me realize that while I had accepted God's forgiveness I hadn't forgiven myself for not being able to love others unconditionally. God used this song, Unbounded Grace, to reach into my heart and heal it.
Unbounded grace, it reached to me, When hope was gone from view;
In my despair, Christ came to me, as He alone could do.
Grace was for me the only way my guilt could find relief;
My destiny was changed that day I reached out in belief.
God's grace does not on me depend, It's God who is my Stay;
His love is offered without end, He walks with me each day.
The universe with joy will ring when grace has won the day;
As all creation joins to sing, "Praise God who paid man's way!"
As long as we hold any unforgiveness in our hearts--even and especially of ourselves--we will live from a place of fear because we will feel we do not deserve love. Good Friday is all about having that bondage broken--the bondage of feeling we're not good enough to be loved or to love. God accepts you as you are, then sets about giving you all you need to be His beloved child. His grace does not depend on you. The work of Jesus Christ is finished. You need only claim it.
Father, thank you for your Son who came to close the chasm between You and me that I might belong once again to You and partake of all You Are.
Link to scripture: http://mlbible.com/john/19-30.htm
Take action: Forgiveness