What Good Friday Means to Me

April 6, 2020 |
Good Friday

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins .

Colossians 1:13-14

Not The Usual Good Friday Service

The church slowly went dark, drawing the small group of worshipers closer to the mood of that first Good Friday. All eyes followed Pastor Eric’s silhouette across the altar and behind the 10-foot projector screen. Our ears traced his footsteps to the stained glass window until we heard the flip of a switch followed by a few seconds of white noise as an old cassette played. 

Then it started. The hollow, high-pitched sound of metal striking metal in perfect rhythm. Ting… Ting…

Pastor Eric explained, “This is the sound of a hammer on a railroad tie.” 

Ting..! Ting..!

He continued as the piercing sound made my neck itch: “This is what our Lord heard as His hands and feet were being nailed to the cross – for you.”


“Each excruciating, eye-popping strike ripped through our Savior’s flesh – for you.”

My eyes darted toward the door and I forced my feet to remain planted in the pew. Pastor Eric said nothing more, but my soul heard the blood-curdling screams between each strike. 


Just when I thought I might lose my lunch, the cassette finally stopped. 

Jesus’ Sacrifice Brought to Life

I attended this Good Friday service in a dwindling, traditional Lutheran church in Green Bay, Wisconsin in 2000. We moved a few months later and found a new church, but my husband and I still remember that service every Easter

It was the first time Jesus’ sacrifice felt real to me. I remember the stunned silence in which the entire congregation left the church. I can still hear that hammer. And I still feel nauseous when I think about it, because I can see His hand seizing and His blood spurting out – for me.

My Attitude of Entitlement

I’m a decent person, so I expected my life to be calm. I’ve had days when I’ve whined in self-pity “Why God? I don’t deserve this pain and sickness! I never hurt anyone! Bad things should only happen to bad people!” 

I cheated throughout Spanish class in high school. TING!
I lived with my husband before we married. TING!
I lost my temper and cursed today. TING!

“You’re right,” He answers back. “You don’t deserve the life I’ve given you. I rescued you from the life you deserve.”

"You're right," Jesus said, "You don't deserve the life I've given you. I rescued you from the life you deserve." Click To Tweet

What We All Deserve…

Those railroad ties were supposed to be for us. We are all sinners. Not one of us is righteous. And when we cheat, disobey, or treat others poorly, we’re just as evil and guilty as those on death row. 

That’s where all sinners belong – on death row. Jesus saved us from the “dominion of darkness”, so that means we were already there. And He could have left us there in our rightful home where suffering is expected and death is the norm.

Trouble isn’t a curse – it’s a fitting consequence for who and what we are.

Good Friday: What we deserve vs What He gave...

But the Son of God willingly spread His arms open wide as I swung the hammer and you held the nail. To give us His life and His peace, He had to suffer our punishment and die our death. 

The Son of God willingly spread His arms open wide as I swung the hammer and you held the nail. Click To Tweet

I take peace for granted, as though I’m entitled. But health, laughter, forgiveness, love, warmth – these are all gifts purchased at the highest imaginable ransom. 

Because of Good Friday, we all live lives we don’t deserve, both now on earth and for all eternity. What gifts will you thank Jesus for today?

Dear Jesus,
I know I deserve the suffering and death you endured. Thank you for coming to give me life to the fullest and peace beyond understanding. Please forgive my attitude of entitlement and help me to always remember the price you paid to give me the life I don’t deserve.

Because of Good Friday, we all live lives we don't deserve, both now on earth and for all eternity. What gifts will you thank Jesus for today? Click To Tweet

Related Post: Easter Isn’t A Feeling But A Fact

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  • Reply Kim Steadman April 6, 2020 at 8:45 am

    Valerie, your piece touched me. Easter is special in so many ways as a Christian. But, for my family Palm Sunday is extra dear because it’s when my parent’s became Christians. The first Easter was all new to me. I had only known the day as bunnies and eggs. This sentence really spoke to me for this Easter. “I take peace for granted, as though I’m entitled. But health, laughter, forgiveness, love, warmth – these are all gifts purchased at the highest imaginable ransom. ”

    I’ve gone through some less than peaceful times in the past 3 years. I did take peace for granted and even (ashamedly) prayed prayers that now sound as if I was praying ‘entitled’ prayers. You have reminded me any thing we have that is GOOD is a gift, and paid for with a dear price. Thank you for that gentle reminder.

    • Reply Valerie Riese April 6, 2020 at 9:42 am

      Kim, I’m so glad this piece was so meaningful to you. I’ve learned this lesson of taking peace for granted the hard way too. How special that your parents became Christians on Palm Sunday. Just imagine if you’d know then what plans God had for you and all the lives you’d so profoundly impact in His name! The work He does in you and through you is certainly a very good gift to all who know you.
      Valerie Riese recently posted…What Good Friday Means to Me

  • Reply Linda Stoll April 6, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Valerie, thank you for recalibrating my thoughts, my soul on what is most important this week. I so appreciate the heart of this post.

    I’m off to listen to Crowder.

    Bless you.
    Linda Stoll recently posted…Here’s What You’re Telling Me You’re Struggling With . . .

    • Reply Valerie Riese April 6, 2020 at 10:20 am

      You’re welcome, Linda. I love hearing this reminder sent your thoughts to Jesus. Thanks so much for visiting and for your comment. It means a lot to me.

  • Reply Karen Friday April 7, 2020 at 11:13 am

    Wow, Valerie! Your words spoke to my heart and stirred my soul. You painted the sounds and scenes of what you experienced that Good Friday with such vivid imagery, I felt I could almost hear the “Ting, Ting, Ting.” Yes, we all participated in holding the nail or hammering. I remember the first time I went to see “The Passion of the Christ” when it came out in theaters. I literally had to look down to manage not becoming overwhelmed during Jesus beatings, torture and crucifixion. It was so ugly, cruel, bloody, and soul-wrenching. Thankful for the life I don’t deserve here and in eternity.

    • Reply Valerie Riese April 8, 2020 at 7:37 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Karen! I really wanted to take the reader back with me to that service, so your comments mean a lot to me! I struggled to watch The Passion too, but I forced myself to watch. Normally I avoid things that brutal, but I thought I needed to better understand how much He suffered for us. Knowing that even the most bloody rendition Hollywood can cook up probably still couldn’t come close to the truth of Good Friday fills me with both grief and gratitude. So nice of you to visit us, Karen, and thanks again!

  • Reply Patsy Burnette April 8, 2020 at 12:00 pm

    Thank you, Valerie! We for sure didn’t get what we deserve on Good Friday, and that’s a good thing, for us!!! Love “Forgiven” by Crowder! Thank you so much for this beautiful post!


    Thanks for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    • Reply Valerie Riese April 8, 2020 at 12:09 pm

      Thank you, Patsy! We are so blessed for what Jesus did for us on Good Friday.

  • Reply Trudy April 10, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    This is powerful, Valerie. What He suffered for undeserving wretches like us is so fathomless. And that He so willingly spread His arms open wide for us to hammer in those nails. I’m so grateful He loves us so unconditionally! Love and blessings of a HOPE-filled Easter to you!
    Trudy recently posted…Hope Is Still Alive Because Jesus Lives!

    • Reply Valerie Riese April 12, 2020 at 4:01 pm

      It is impossible for me to comprehend too. But the more I try to understand, the more grateful I am. I wish a blessed Easter for you and your family too!

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