Of course, we can get into all kinds of semantics and say that they didn’t really mean “good”, they meant “holy”, but when I was 8 years old and was taught about “Good Friday” for the first time, I didn’t know from semantics then and I’m sure there are others who don’t now, as well. So let’s just stick with the term we all know. “Good”.
Good Friday isn’t one of those Holy Days that’s widely celebrated, such as Easter and Christmas. In fact, I don’t recall going to many churches, if any, that even had a special Friday service for it. Instead, all the time and celebration go to the Sunday two days later. Easter Sunday.
So, why isn’t there much mention of it? Why is there no special commemoration. Had there been no Good Friday, there couldn’t be an Easter Sunday. You see, that Friday… that “Good” Friday… was the day that Jesus was crucified and died.
So… was it really “Good”?
For the family, friends, and disciples of Jesus… no. It was the worst possible thing that could have ever happened.
This man, who had been teaching in a way no one else had dared to teach and who had been healing the sick, making the lame walk, causing the blind to see… this man who could chase demons into a herd of pigs and could calm a roaring sea just by saying, “be still”… this man who claimed to be the very son of God and, as such, should have had no problem dealing with anyone who dared say anything different, was arrested, beaten, tried, beaten some more, taken to Pontius Pilate, beaten yet again and brought before the very people who just a week before had celebrated his entry into their city, only to now cry out demanding his death. No. This was not good for those who were closest to Jesus.
They were left to grieve the loss of their son, brother, uncle and friend. And they were left totally confused about who he truly was, because… why would God allow anyone to kill His only son? If he truly were as he said he was. It was more than they could wrap their heads around and in the hours Jesus hung on the cross and died, his disciples were scattered and one, Peter, even completely denied he ever knew Jesus… three times… before the sun came up on Saturday. And the thing is, Jesus knew he would and told him as much!
Jesus also told all of them not to sweat his death, that on the third day, Sunday, he would arise from the grave… resurrected… and go to be with his Father and prepare a place there for all of them.
And it’s not like they hadn’t seen him perform miracles. He changed water to wine. He fed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish and still had twelve baskets full of food left over after everyone was full! They even watched as he raised his dear friend, Lazarus, from the dead. But that was different. He was alive then. How do you do anything once you’re dead?
No. He was dead. He was laid in a tomb. The tomb was sealed shut. It was over. He was gone. Definitely not a “Good” Friday. Not for them. And because of the Sabbath, they couldn’t even properly prepare Jesus for burial. Thus the borrowed tomb as a place to put him until Sunday when they could properly care for him and prepare for his burial.
Mary Magdalene, and another one of his followers also named Mary, go to the tomb with all the things necessary to clean and prepare Jesus’ body for burial. When they get there, there was an earthquake and they saw that the stone that sealed the tomb had been rolled away from the entrance. They run inside and find… nothing. Well, nothing but the cloth that had been wrapped around the body, but Jesus was gone.
Then, before them, an Angel appears and says, “Don’t be afraid, for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”
But the question remains… was that Friday “good”?
You have to know why Jesus died in the first place.
While the Sadducees and the Pharisees and Pilate, everyone at that time would say it was because he was a blaspheming radical that caused too much trouble and unrest, there was far more to the story.
You see, God sent Jesus to this earth to cause all that trouble and unrest, to be a radical, and specifically to die on the cross. But not for any crime or sin people thought he committed. No. He sent Jesus to die for crimes and sins that everyone else had committed… or ever would. And Jesus came here willingly, knowing full well what would happen to him.
There was a purpose… to remove the need for an intermediary when we go before God. And to cleanse away all sin with a blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices.
When Jesus died… At that very second in the Temple. the veil that separated the Tabernacle from the Holy of Holies was ripped in half… from top to bottom. 60 feet in height and 4 inches thick… from top to bottom.
God himself reached down from Heaven and tore that veil in two and He was saying, you can come directly to me now. No more priests. No more sacrifices. The ultimate debt has already been paid by my son on your behalf. Come directly to me.
Jesus died bearing all the sins of all humanity from that very day to… eternity. Then he conquered all the sin, and then death itself when he arose from the grave. And most importantly he gave us direct access to his Father and forgiveness of all our sins, and all we have to do is ask for it. It’s a free gift.
So… looking back… that Friday was very good, indeed, for all of humanity.
And it deserves more than to be just an afterthought to illustrate Easter. There could have been no resurrection without, first, the sacrifice.
This year, instead of just coloring eggs and buying chocolate bunnies… think about that sacrifice and what it really means.
And then thank God that he loved the whole world so much that he offered his only begotten son to be that sacrifice.
That is real love.
Have a wonderful Good Friday…
Happy Easter and God bless you all!
John 12:1-John 21:25