WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT GOOD FRIDAY, SINCE IT IS NOTED AS A DAY JESUS DIED ON THE CROSS?

As it appears visible to the blind and audible to the deaf, today is
universally celebrated in Christendom as GOOD FRIDAY. But then, the ultimate
question is: “Why do we call Good Friday “good,” when it is such a dark
and bleak 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 and salvation.
In
the same vein, 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.

“…and
I love that old cross,
Where the dearest and blest,
For a world of lost sinners was slain.

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