Why do Christians refer to this day as Good Friday when what happened to Jesus couldn’t really be described as ‘good’?
When my brother-in-law was younger he used to ask why this day in the Christian calendar was called “Good Friday”. He thought a more appropriate name would be “Bloody Awful Friday”! In some ways I think he’s right! It was bloody. It was awful. But it was also very good.
“They brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha…and they crucified Him…It was nine in the morning when they crucified Him…At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, because the sun stopped shining. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice…’My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?’…With a loud cry, Jesus said ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit’, bowed His head, saying ‘It is finished’, and then He breathed His last.” (Matthew 27:32-50, Mark 15:22-37, Luke 23:32-46, John 19:17-30)
So, what is so ‘good’ about Good Friday? What is it about this Public Holiday called Good Friday that makes it the most important day in the Christian calendar?
Is it because I get paid Public Holiday rates if I work? Is it because we get a long weekend to spend with family and friends? Is it because I can eat Hot Cross Buns?
The answer quite simply is that it is about what Jesus did for us that makes it good.
Sin is, put simply, living outside of God’s will and purpose for our lives. Sin separates us from God, and until Jesus’ death, a complicated system of sacrifices had been offered as atonement for people’s sins. Only through the sacrifice of animals could people be forgiven and come clean before God. But people sinned continually and frequent sacrifices were needed. So, instead, God made a way for us to put aside our sin and receive eternal life by giving us His Son, Jesus who became the final and ultimate sacrifice for our sin. Jesus suffered this horrific death on the cross so that we would never have to experience eternal separation from God because of our sin. Those who believe in His death and resurrection can now live eternally with God, having escaped the penalty of separation that comes from sin. If we accept that Jesus was sent by God to take away our sin, we remove the barrier that sin created between us and God which gives us the ability to live with the love of God every day.
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Jesus’ last words as He died for you and I were: “It is finished.”
And so ended His day as He gave up His life for you and I.
A very ‘good’ Good Friday.