What’s so good about Good Friday anyway?
This Friday Christians all around the world will be gathering to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus on a day that is typically referred to as Good Friday. But what is so “good” about Good Friday anyway?
In English, 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 of 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. Good Friday is good because through the death of Jesus the ultimate display of Gods love was revealed to humankind. Jesus was not some helpless victim of those who wanted to hang Him on a cross. He was about his Father’s business and fulfilling His Father’s mission.
Three things to consider this Friday.
1) Jesus went to the cross willingly. Have you ever seen the modern feature film The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe based on The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S Lewis? If you watch the powerful sacrificial scene you will have noticed the veiled raw strength and presence of the Lion Aslan. Nobody, not even the White Witch herself was able to subdue the Great Aslan! Aslan’s sacrifice in place of Edmund had to be willingly given. As Aslan walks up the steps to the great stone table surrounded by all manner of evil creatures hell bent on His destruction, He gives just a hint of His power via a subtle growl when a flying Goblin looks him in the face. Consequently, the foul creature falls to the ground and you are left with the impression that Aslan could tear any of them to pieces at any moment on His way to the table. Aslan of course is intended by Lewis to represent Jesus.
Johns gospel records a similar event:
“Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. (John 18 4-6)
Jesus was letting them know He was allowing them to take Him captive. Jesus was fulfilling His claim that He was the good shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep (John 10:11). Just as no one could subdue Aslan no one could subdue Jesus. John’s gospel records Jesus as having said:
“For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)
2) Jesus went to the Cross purposefully. Even as He hung on a cross Jesus was still about His Father’s business and fulfilling His Father’s mission, drinking the cup of His Fathers wrath (Luke 22:42). As Jesus died, Johns Gospel records Jesus as having said “It is finished” (John 19:30). Jesus was saying “mission accomplished” Everything that had to be done has been done. All the work the Father had sent him to accomplish (cf. 4:34; 9:4) was now completed, particularly his work of bearing the penalty for sins. This means there was no more penalty left to be paid for sins, for all Jesus’ suffering was “finished” (Hebrews 1:3; 9:11–12, 25–28)
3) Jesus went to the cross mercifully. As the old hymn goes:
“It wasn’t the nails that held Him to the cross,
He could have come down
but the whole world would have been lost,The ransom was so high
Only He could pay the cost
It wasn’t the nails that held him to the cross.”
Even when Jesus is being is being tortured by his enemies and suffering the consequences of humanity’s sin He is still concerned for the wellbeing of others. He heals the ear of a guy who is trying to arrest Him, to His friends and family “John take care of your mother” and to His enemies who are mocking him “Father forgive them.” The hymn continues:
“He was wounded for our transgressions,
bruised for our iniquity,
by His stripes we were healed,
as He hung there at Calvary.
He was lifted up from the earth,
in order to draw all men;
it was love that held Him there
and that same love covers our sins.”
According to the prophet Isaiah:
“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.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)
Good Friday is good because Jesus died willingly, purposefully, and mercifully for sinful humanity. Good Friday is good because God is good to Humanity. Good Friday is good because through the death of Jesus the ultimate display of Gods self-sacrificing love was on full display that day.