Today is Good Friday. A day we call “good” in retrospect, because for those looking up into the face of Jesus as he was hanging on the cross, it was the darkest day the world had ever known. But what the women and disciples at the cross did not understand was that they were witnessing Christ’s coronation: crowned with a crown of thorns; enthroned on a throne of suffering; hailed king by the very men who killed him; robed in purple by the soldiers who pierced him. The day Jesus died was the day he was hailed Christ: Messiah, King, God’s Anointed One.
For most evangelical Christians, Good Friday is the day we commemorate Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice as the lamb of God slain for sinners. Good Friday is understood to be the day Jesus became the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 52-53. And indeed it is that day. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. He wrought peace by his blood, and by his scourging we were healed.
And yet none of this makes sense unless the Suffering Servant and Lamb of God was not also the Christ. Messiah King.
The sins brought into the world by our father Adam were sins wrought on us because Adam was not merely the first man: he was the first king. And when the king sins, the people suffer. As the king goes, so go the people. This is why the curse of thorns leveled on humanity for Adam’s sins are the same thorns we suffer today. This is why Kings and Chronicles do not speak much about the people, but focus almost solely upon the kings of Israel and Judah. We are to understand that whatever the king is doing, so the people are doing. The people’s life and death, sin and obedience, all hinge upon the king. This is why the promised Messiah was so important to the people of Israel during the latter kingdom and exile: they longed for a king to restore the house of David. But what they didn’t realize was that the Messiah would instead restore the house of Adam. For Adam’s house had long been in disrepair.
When Adam obeyed Satan by partaking of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam lost the throne and the kingdom, and the world submitted to the rule of Satan, sin, and death. Only a new king, a Messiah, could restore what had been lost. At a tree Adam seeded the kingdom to Satan, and at a tree the Second Adam stole the kingdom back. At a tree sin thrust the world into darkness, and at a tree the Light of the World overcame it. At a tree, death entered the world, and at a tree death died. And so on that Friday we call “good,” Jesus was bruised so that Satan might be crushed. Jesus was made sin so that sin might be made null. Jesus died so that death would do the same. By means of the King’s perfect life and penal substitution to heal the rift between God and man, the kingdom was ripped from the hands of the Evil One and restored under the rule of the Righteous King: one who was fully Adam and fully God. Jesus was not merely a sacrifice that died on behalf of the people: he was a king who defeated the powers of Satan, sin, and death so that the world might rest under the reign of the Righteous One. He was a king who wore the curse as his kingly crown.
And this is why resurrection Sunday is so meaningful: a sacrifice can stay dead and still be a sacrifice. But God promised that His Holy One would not see corruption (Ps. 16:10; Acts 2:27), for the King must reign for the Kingdom to be made well. And so the king crowned on Good Friday was raised on Resurrection Sunday as the victor. And one day every knee shall bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord Messiah King. For the kingdoms of this world will crumble and fade away, and the angels will declare:
“The kingdom of the world has become
the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15)