Today is Good Friday and I think we need to ask, “why?” Why in the world would we call this day, of all days, good?
Why is it “good” that Jesus was betrayed and arrested (Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:46-53, John 18:2-12)? Why is it “good” he was slandered, tried unjustly, and condemned to death (Matthew 26:57-27:26, Mark 14:53-15:15, Luke 22:54-23:54, John 18:13-19:16)? What is “good” about being beaten, flogged, whipped, broken, crucified and buried (Matthew 27:27-61, Mark 15:16-47, Luke 23:26-54, John 19:16-42)? Why is it “good,” that the Son of God himself went to a cross to die?
First, Good Friday is good because Jesus is who he said he was. Jesus is the Son of God, the King of Kings, and the firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:15). Jesus is the Suffering Servant prophesied about in Isaiah 53:4-11. He is the prophet foretold in Deuteronomy 18:15-18, the ruler talked about in Micah 5:2, and the king prophesied in Zechariah 14:9. On the cross, it will be Jesus who finally crushes the serpent’s head (Genesis 3:15). Jesus is the Messiah and the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). And Jesus knew exactly what he was doing. This was his mission here on earth (Luke 19:10, John 3:16). The events leading up to the cross were not a surprise to him. Nearly every moment of Good Friday was a fulfillment of prophecy. It was good news because it accomplished exactly what it was supposed to.
Second, Good Friday is good because Jesus saves us from sin and death. On the cross, Jesus took our sin upon his own shoulders (1 Peter 2:24). On the cross, Jesus canceled our record of debt (Colossians 2:14). On the cross, we are united with him in death, so that we might also be united with him in life (Romans 6:3-11). It is because of the events of Good Friday that we are saved. It is because of the horror Jesus endured, that we now have freedom and life in him. This should humble us. We should step into Good Friday with a mix of deep sorrow and incredible gratitude. Our Savior died so that we might have eternal life (Romans 6:23).
Ultimately, Good Friday is good because Jesus himself is good. In fact, Jesus is the only one in all human history who is truly and completely “good” (1 Peter 2:22). This meant he was able to accomplish his mission, live a perfect life, and die sacrificially on our behalf. Jesus is altogether lovely, absolutely powerful, and unbelievably gracious. He is the best thing in all creation. Jesus doesn’t need our attention, devotion, or allegiance. He is good and perfect despite all that. However, it is because he is so good that we respond anyway. When we look to who Jesus is and what he accomplished, we have no other option than to love and follow him.
So, when pondering Good Friday, I pray it causes us to slow down a bit. I pray it makes us think and maybe even cry. Why? Because while today truly is good news, let us not so quickly run to what we know happens on Sunday. Let us sit here, in the crucifixion and burial of Jesus for a while. Good Friday is good for us because it was horrific for Jesus. He was accursed on our behalf (Galatians 3:13). He conquered death so we need not fear. But that day, when Jesus breathed his last breath, was also incredibly sad. Scripture says even the sky grew dark (Matthew 27:45, Mark 15:33, Luke 23:44). God watched his only Son die. For three days, the enemy thought he won. For three days, sin and death looked to be victorious. For three days, Jesus seemed to be gone. This should shake and silence us. We should respond with an odd mix of deep sorrow and incredible rejoicing.
If you do not grasp the significance of this, or do not truly trust that Jesus died on your behalf, there is no better time than to surrender your life to him. His sacrifice was once and for all. Every bit of what he accomplished can apply to you as well. You need only believe with your heart and confess with your mouth to be saved (Romans 10:9-10).
All of this is pretty heavy. Days like today are not meant to be anything else. Thankfully, we need not wait like this for long. Christ’s death was not the only thing prophesied all throughout the Bible. And while Jesus said tetelestai, “it is finished” (John 19:30) that fateful day on the cross, the story is far from over.
If you missed a day in the Holy Week series, read the previous entries here.