What’s So Good About Good Friday?
April 15, 2022
Matthew 26:38-39; John 19:16-37, Luke 23:44-45
It seems to be an unusual reference, doesn’t it? Of course, I’m talking about calling the day Jesus died on the cross Good Friday.
One dictionary etymology of the word good reads,
‘Good Friday’ comes from the obsolete sense ‘pious, holy’ of the word “good.”
So, one could say this is where we find the origin of the reference to Good Friday as Holy Friday. Another term used for Good Friday is Black Friday. It seems to be an appropriate term as Luke’s Gospel states,
“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.” Luke 23:44-45
Somehow over the years, the term, Black Friday, morphed into a special Holiday shopping extravaganza, the day after Thanksgiving.
The not-good part of Good Friday really begins on Thursday when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane praying.
“Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Matthew 26:38-39
In this passage, Jesus is praying to the Father. He knew the pain and suffering He was about to endure. Perhaps Christ’s human side cries out in anguish to take this humiliation and pain from Him. But, that cry for help only lasts for a moment, for He continues,
Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
Jesus accepted the horrors that were about to befall Him. He willingly accepted His earthly fate because His sacrifice went beyond death; He was a living sacrifice for all of mankind.
Let’s take a few moments to look at the crucifixion as described in the Gospel of John.
The Crucifixion of Jesus
Finally, Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.
So, the soldiers took charge of Jesus. Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). There they crucified him and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle.
Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: “Jesus of Nazareth, the king of the Jews.” Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin, and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.”
Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
“Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”
This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled that said,
“They divided my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.” (19:24 Psalm 22:18)
So, this is what the soldiers did.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her,
“Woman, (19:26 The Greek for Woman does not denote any disrespect.) here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
The Death of Jesus
Later, knowing that everything had now been finished and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said,
“I am thirsty.”
A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said,
“It is finished.”
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down. The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken” (19:36 Exodus 12:46; Num. 9:12; Psalm 34:20) and, as another scripture says, “They will look on the one they have pierced.” John 19:16-37
Jesus was mocked. I look at the sign above His head on the cross, not accepting who He is but mocking who He claimed to be.
His clothes were taken and split up between the soldiers.
Jesus gave up His earthly mother, Mary, to John to care for as his own mother.
When Jesus said, “I thirst,” He was given sour wine to quench His thirst.
And finally, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “It is finished.”
At that moment, Christ was all alone. I often think of that moment of Jesus’ death. I imagine God, who is Holy, looking at His Son on the cross. Jesus had just taken every sin of the world, past, present, and future, upon Himself. Yet, God turns away at that moment because He is sickened by the sight of His sin-infested Son.
No, there wasn’t anything good about that first Good Friday, was there?
That is, except for one crucial item.
Jesus took all of our sins away, and humankind was finally free. God could now accept us as righteous in His sight.
God’s grace, His undeserved love, came down to save us, and on Good Friday, Jesus did just that through His death on the cross.
As you know, the story doesn’t end there. Jesus was buried, and three days later, He physically rose from the dead.
But that is a story for another day, perhaps this Sunday?