Posts Tagged ‘Good Friday’

Why do we call Good Friday “good,” when it is such a dark and sad event commemorating a day of suffering and death for Jesus?

For Christians, Good Friday is a crucial day of the year because it celebrates what we believe to be the most momentous weekend in the history of the world. Ever since Jesus died and was raised, Christians have proclaimed the cross and resurrection of Jesus to be the decisive turning point for all creation. Paul considered it to be “of first importance” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and was raised to life on the third day, all in accordance with what God had promised all along in the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3).

On Good Friday we remember the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins (1 John 1:10). It is followed by Easter, the glorious celebration of the day Jesus was raised from the dead, heralding his victory over sin and death and pointing ahead to a future resurrection for all who are united to him by faith (Romans 6:5).

Still, why call the day of Jesus’ death “Good Friday” instead of “Bad Friday” or something similar? Some Christian traditions do take this approach: in German, for example, the day is called Karfreitag, or “Sorrowful Friday.” In English, in fact, the origin of the term “Good” is debated: some believe it developed from an older name, “God’s Friday.” Regardless of the origin, the name Good Friday is entirely appropriate because the suffering and death of Jesus, as terrible as it was, marked the dramatic culmination of God’s plan to save his people from their sins.

In order for the good news of the gospel to have meaning for us, we first have to understand the bad news of our condition as sinful people under condemnation. The good news of deliverance only makes sense once we see how we are enslaved. Another way of saying this is that it is important to understand and distinguish between law and gospel in Scripture. We need the law first to show us how hopeless our condition is; then the gospel of Jesus’ grace comes and brings us relief andsalvation.

In the same way, Good Friday is “good” because as terrible as that day was, it had to happen for us to receive the joy of Easter. The wrath of God against sin had to be poured out on Jesus, the perfect sacrificial substitute, in order for forgiveness and salvation to be poured out to the nations. Without that awful day of suffering, sorrow, and shed blood at the cross, God could not be both “just and the justifier” of those who trust in Jesus (Romans 3:26). Paradoxically, the day that seemed to be the greatest triumph of evil was actually the deathblow in God’s gloriously good plan to redeem the world from bondage.

The cross is where we see the convergence of great suffering and God’s forgiveness. Psalms 85:10 sings of a day when “righteousness and peace” will “kiss each other.” The cross of Jesus is where that occurred, where God’s demands, his righteousness, coincided with his mercy. We receive divine forgiveness, mercy, and peace because Jesus willingly took our divine punishment, the result of God’s righteousness against sin. “For the joy set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) Jesus endured the cross on Good Friday, knowing it led to his resurrection, our salvation, and the beginning of God’s reign of righteousness and peace.

Good Friday marks the day when wrath and mercy met at the cross. That’s why Good Friday is so dark and so Good.

Smoke from Extinguished Candle“Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.”John 19:28-30
Good Friday … I am sure on that first Good Friday, that the first followers of Jesus would have called it anything but Good. That first Good Friday would have been an extremely long, tough, discouraging, dark day.You see these first followers who had followed Jesus for three years and had had such hope, such confidence and such anticipation of the exciting future that Jesus would bring to their world and to their individual lives. And yet on that Friday almost 2000 years ago they saw their dreams and hopes dashed. You see they hadn’t read the rest of the story, they didn’t know how this exciting historic story was going to unfold.

All they knew was this Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had learned to trust, was now hanging before their eyes … dead on a cross. What must have been going through their minds?

You see even as we read this painful description found in the Bible in the 19th Chapter of John, it is only natural to quickly want to turn to the 20th Chapter and read about the victory that came on Sunday. But for just a moment on this Good Friday, let’s imagine what it would have been like for the first believers in Christ to see the one whom they had come to believe was the Son of God, the Messiah, was now hanging on the cross seemingly defeated.

What feelings must have been rushing through their hearts? They must have been experiencing feelings of discouragement, defeat, and hopelessness? You see … its Friday and although Sunday is coming, they didn’t yet know it!

Isn’t that the way it is in our lives sometimes?

We experience a discouraging setback at work… or possibly lose that dream job and we feel discouragement and disappointment. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it!

We suffer another tough day in our personal life feeling defeated by that particular temptation, addiction or enslaving habit. We feel stupid, embarrassed, angry, and defeated! It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

We experiencing a heartbreaking setback in a personal relationship in our lives … We walk out of court with the words “Divorce” echoing in our ears. We feel rejected, lonely and unloved. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

We hear a bad report from the doctor for ourselves, or a loved one. Our hearts race with fear, anxiety and uncertainty. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

We stand beside the grave of someone we love very much and we feel a deep loneliness and ache in our heart. It is Friday and although Sunday is coming, we don’t yet realize it.

It is in those moments that we feel the darkness of that first Good Friday!

It is in those moments that we need to take to heart the example of Jesus that is described in the Bible in the Book of Hebrews. In the 12th chapter of that encouraging book, Jesus is described as our champion who initiates and perfects our faith. We are reminded that as Jesus went to the cross he had the following focus: “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross.” That was an incredible focus!

Corrie ten Boom, who suffered in a Nazi death camp, explained the power of focus: “If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ you’ll be at rest!”

… This morning as we allow ourselves to feel the darkness that those first believers must have felt, let’s focus our thoughts on the fact that … Yes at times in life, the candle might have been blown out temporarily, but it will shine again very, very soon! You see … it is Friday, but Easter Sunday is coming! Let’s take a moment now and reflect on what they must have felt and the reminder that no matter what we might be going through in our lives … It is Friday, but Easter Sunday is coming!

It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the Spirit. John. 19:30.

They call this Good Friday, but to many it’s bittersweet. This is the day that we choose to remember the self-sacrifice Jesus chose so we could all have a second chance and forgiveness. This is the day that always brings me to tears. While many people see the event of this precious man’s death as far off and in the past, I see it as an act that is played out every day as He continues to forgive all of us for our sins. I see this painful death as the most incredible act of love that anyone has ever shown me.

When I read the Bible and think about all the pain and humiliation that Jesus went through for me, I take it personal. While He did this act for everyone that draws a breath, I like to bring it closer to my heart by remembering that He knew me then, and took the pain and sorrow on His back so that I could be forgiven and loved now. What kind of person have you ever met would do that for you? How many people do you know would plead guilty to a crime that their friend committed because they loved them that much? How many people would do this  knowing that they would endure pain  beyond our imaginations. Knowing they would literally have nails driven through their body so you could go free. Has anyone you known ever done this for you? I know someone who has done it for me and the person was Jesus. He didn’t have to, but He did. What a friend we have in Jesus.

Today as we think about the incredible sacrifice that Jesus made for us, let’s remember to keep our relationship personal with Him. Do whatever it takes to feel him in your heart every day. I don’t care what it takes to do that, but allow the emotions we feel on this sad yet joyous day, become something you experience on a daily basis. Please just make sure you allow Good Friday to be Good Every day by never forgetting that special relationship you have with Jesus.

Keeping it real and close….