Today is Good Friday. A day near the end of Holy Week or Passion Week, the time we believers in Christ contemplate the last week of our Savior’s life here on earth.
Good Friday. What’s good about a day when a most beloved teacher, healer, miracle worker, and lover of every human’s soul was put to death in a most agonizingly, excruciatingly painful way – crucifixion?
What’s good about a Savior who was fully man and fully God being wrongfully accused, arrested, tried and sentenced to die like a common criminal, scourged, beaten, mocked, spit on, denied and forsaken?
What’s good about His followers, who first-hand witnessed His kindness, love, and hope and called Him their Messiah, watching Him suffer for hours while nailed on a Roman cross at a place called Golgotha, meaning “The Place of the Skull”?
Wasn’t Good Friday really the worst day ever? The day someone named Jesus Christ, just hailed joyfully and triumphantly a few days before, ceased to exist in human form?
So why in the world do we Christians call this day Good Friday? It’s a day seemingly full of sorrow, isn’t it? Scripture tells us even Jesus Himself cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)
As Jesus suffered on that cross, He absorbed all the sins – the wrongdoings we all commit which separate us from the utmost holiness of God – of this earthly world for all time. Jesus felt the agonizing abyss of being isolated from the most holy God while He was burdened with all of our wicked transgressions, mine, yours, everyone’s, on that simple wooden cross. And He did so willingly because of His immeasurable love for every one of us.
For a reason.
“I am wholly deserving of all the consequences that I will in fact never receive simply because God unashamedly stepped in front of me on the cross, unflinchingly spread His arms so as to completely shield me from the retribution that was mine to bear, and repeatedly took the blows. And I stand entirely unwounded, utterly lost in the fact that the while His body was pummeled and bloodied to death by that which was meant for me and me alone, I have not a scratch.” ~ Craig D. Lounsbrough
On that Good Friday for three hours, darkness descended across the land, the sun stopped shining, and the curtain between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place in the Jewish temple suddenly was rent in two. That alone was shocking and unsettling. What was so good about that?
Finally, as He breathed His last, Jesus spoke, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” (Luke 24:46). And in finality, He also uttered these words, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
It is finished. Good Friday was finished. That day like no other, a day full of agony and sorrow, finally concluded.
But here’s the thing. It wasn’t the end!
When Jesus declared “It is finished,” He meant His mission here on earth, the reason God the Father sent His son here was completed. Mission accomplished. For one simple reason – to save mankind’s souls. To offer us The Only Way to God. When Jesus died on that old rugged cross, He gave us the greatest gift we can ever receive – salvation.
“The cross was two pieces of dead wood; and a helpless, unresisting Man was nailed to it; yet it was mightier than the world, and triumphed, and will ever triumph over it.” ~Augustus William Hare
The truth of salvation did not end on that bleak Friday we now call good. What was so good about it? It’s not the end of the story! Jesus Christ’s life, with His broken body and His blood spilling out, did not end on that cross.
In just three days after His earthly death and burial in a tomb sealed with a huge boulder, He arose from the dead. Alive once more, He defeated the power of death. His resurrection is what we celebrate joyfully on Easter Sunday.
One version of the Bible called The Message puts it this way: “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.” ~ John 3:16-18
When we choose to believe in Christ and follow Him, we receive the free gift of everlasting life. Someday we will pass from this earthly life but we will live again in Heaven forever with our Savior and Lord.
And that is what makes Good Friday good.
“Good Friday is a day of sorrow mingled with joy. It is a time to grieve over the sin of man and to meditate and rejoice upon God’s love in giving His only Son for the redemption of sin.” ~ David Katski