Ever Wonder Why We Call It Good Friday?

Good Friday.

I know. That was a week ago. Still, it’s one of those special days that sits on one little square of the calendar—but affects us for eternity.

But why is it so good?

Yes, most of us love Fridays. It’s the end of the week, the beginning of the weekend. And I’ve never heard of a casual Monday or Tuesday. But while TGIF may be the favored hashtag of every fifth day of the week, only one Friday a year is always preceded by “Good.”

Again, why?

After all, the day commemorates death. Murder. Brutality.

Now, Sunday? The day of His resurrection? We could call that good. Or even glorious. Christ’s coming back to life. Leaving the grave behind. Reuniting with those who thought they’d lost Him.

And the day of Christ’s birth. That was good. His leaving heaven for us. Dwelling with us. Walking with us.

But no, it’s just that one Friday. So, there must be something behind His death. A meaning for it—deeper than just the life of one martyr.

We have a treasured tradition for Good Friday at church. In the evening, we come together, sing, pray, remembering the Lord’s final supper and His death on the cross.

But we don’t talk about His resurrection. Not yet.

Instead, at the end of the service, the music stops, the lights dim, and we leave in silence. Like the disciples and his mother would have done all those years ago.

Yes, Sunday’s coming.

Christ didn’t stay in that tomb. He rose again.

But sometimes we’re too quick to jump there. We forget those days, those hours, when his followers sat in their grief, reliving what they had seen, knowing an innocent man had been sacrificed. Recognizing the pain he’d been put through. What he gave up.

And how they betrayed Him.

That’s what hit me this year as I planned my Sunday School lesson for Easter Sunday.

  • I could recreate the tabernacle/temple, like I wrote in An Open Letter to My Sunday School Students. (Covid stopped me from setting it up for the past two years.)
  • I could transform the room into the empty tomb, the grave clothes still lying in the form of a body—without the body, of course.

But this year, instead, the events of Good Friday stuck with me—

And why it was GOOD.

The day inevitably brings up talk of the “Gospel.” But did the students really know what that meant? Could they picture the idea more than just a word? It translates “Good News.”

Ah, that word again. Good.

But how could it be good for a good man—a perfect man—God in human flesh—to die?

We say it’s good because He died for us. That He, in His perfection, took our sins on Him.

Isaiah 53:5: “But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.” (NIV)

But, as a kid, that’s so hard to process. How could His death heal?

And I remembered this object lesson: A wonderful picture of death giving life. Freedom.

Yes, Sunday’s coming. We can’t get stuck on Friday. Christ didn’t stay dead. He defeated death and, now, lives forever.

But His death did something miraculous, and it’s good for us to sit there for a moment. To remember the transaction it offered.

We were lost, drowning in the darkness of sin. He took all that sin on Himself. When we accept that gift, we are saved. Able to live again. Like He did on Resurrection Sunday.

No wonder we call it Good Friday.

1 Peter 2:24: “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds, you were healed.” (NASB)

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