I saw a church post about Good Friday saying, “Friday is good because Sunday is coming.” That could be interpreted different ways depending on one’s understanding of the Bible and the historical events of this weekend. The phrase “Sunday is coming” has become very popular in recent years, and while I appreciate the thought behind it, I worry it can cause us to miss the importance and weight of Friday.
Easter Sunday is the defining holiday of our faith. To call yourself a Christian means, in short, that you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the grave. The “rose from the grave” part is important. It displays his deity and his defeat of death. But to get to Sunday, we need Friday. Jesus had to get in the grave somehow, and that death has its own meaning.
Why do we call it Good Friday? If it is about the horrific death of Jesus, how can it be good? Is it only good because we know what happens three days later? I would say that's one reason, but there is more. On that Friday many years ago, Jesus – a perfect and sinless man – died a sinner’s death, a horrible, slow, and painful death. He did this in our place. As sinners we deserve the worst. He took on the worst to allow us to have the best – eternal life. This is a display of both mercy and grace. It is a display of the goodness of God. Therefore, I would say Friday is good because God is good. His redemptive plan is good. His sacrifice is good.
The etymology of Good Friday uses an obsolete definition of the word “good” meaning pious or holy. So, we could follow the pattern of the other days of this week and call it Holy Friday. The way I see it, each day of Holy Week has its own “holiness” to it, its own events that have significance in the lead-up to Jesus’ death and resurrection. For Good Friday, this is the giving of his life in exchange for ours. The Bible says that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I had an index card in my kitchen for a long time with the phrase “Pause and Consider” written on it. I got the idea from Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love. It was a reminder to stop what I’m doing and remember what Jesus did on the Cross, remember the sacrifice he made for me. It was a reminder to meditate on the suffering he endured, so that I would not take it for granted. Good Friday ought to remind us of just that. Let’s spend time today reading, thinking, and praying about all that Jesus went through on the Cross and why. Let’s thank God for His sacrifice that sets us free and allows us to live eternally with Him. Sunday is certainly coming, but Friday has to happen first.
“But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.”