What's Good About Good Friday?
Why do Christians celebrate the day Christ died, even calling it, 'good?'Several years ago during a family devotion about the crucifixion of Jesus, my young son asked, “Why do we it is called, ‘Good Friday?’” A great question. In fact, what is good about Good Friday?
Following the Easter week in the gospels, Friday is the day that Christ was crucified on a cross. This was the first century Roman form of capital punishment. Death by crucifixion was horrible. It was a slow and painful death in which the condemned’s hands and feet were nailed to a wooden cross where he hung for hours. He eventualy died from suffocation after becoming too exhausted to lift himself up in order to breathe. The Romans commonly broke the legs of the person in order to bring about the suffocation.
This is how Jesus died. Why then is Jesus’ death remembered as Good Friday? What’s good about it? To understand, we must recognize why Christ hung on the Cross and what His sacrificial act means for us.
God created man good and without sin. He lived in paradise in a place God created for him. God gave man one rule to keep, but the first man, Adam, disobeyed God. His disobedience brought God’s wrath and condemnation upon himself and every person born after. We are born in sin. We’ve all disobeyed God and fallen short of His standard, which is perfection. Because He is holy and just, God cannot simply ignore our sins. Refraining from holding humans accountable would be against His character.
God’s justice demands a punishment for our sins and that sentence is death. Our sins separate us from God for all eternity (Romans 6:23). We are deserving only of His wrath (Ephesians 2:3).
Good Friday reminds us of our utter hopelessness, that we are far from God, condemned for our sins. Well, what’s good about that?
God’s holiness demanded perfection. He can’t allow sin in His presence. Since man sinned, he could no longer come before God. We needed a way to be made right with Him. In our best human ingenuity, we work to make ourselves acceptable. We try our hardest to be kind to others, help as many people as we can, and hope God smiles on us. I met a woman who said, “When I can get better, stop drinking, clean myself up a little, then I’ll come to church.” If we could make ourselves better, we wouldn’t need God. The Bible says that our best efforts look like filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 64:6). No matter how good we are, we can never be good enough to overcome a solitary sin. We’re still condemned.
Yet, God in His mercy takes the initiative on our behalf. He moves toward us to remove our sin. The only way to forgive sin was through sacrifice. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). In the Old Testament, God’s people were required to offer animal sacrifices every year as an offering to God so their sins could be forgiven. But this solution was inadequate; their shame remained and the offering had to be repeated over and over. A better way for making men and women pure and righteous was needed.
Though God’s holiness demands a perfect sacrifice, He offers one in the person of His own son, Jesus.
“For God so loved that world that He gave His one and only son” (John 3:16).
Jesus left the splendor of heaven to be born a man in a humble stable. For 33 years, He walked the earth experiencing everything you and I face, including pain and joy. Yet, He never sinned, not even once. He was perfect. Because He was perfect, He was the only one capable of becoming the sacrifice for all humanity on the cross (Hebrews 9:28). He died in our place to make us right with God.
Good Friday reminds us of God’s love for us. It reminds us of the perfect sacrifice He provides.
On the cross, Jesus took our place to make us right with God.
“…He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13b-14).
“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).
A ransom is a price that must be paid for the release of a captive. We are held captive by our sin because we are guilty of disobeying God’s laws. Since we cannot purchase or obtain our freedom, we face the prospect of dying and spending eternity without God in a place of torment. Jesus paid our ransom by offering himself in our place (Matthew 20:28).
Good Friday reminds us that our sins are forgiven and we are right with God because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross. And, His resurrection seals our pardon, displaying to all that Christ alone is the Son of God, the only perfect one, qualified to take away our sins. Because He lives, we live.
Have you trusted Christ for your salvation? The Bible tells us we are condemned. But there is hope.
“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).
Acknowledge you are a sinner and ask God to forgive you. Trust in Jesus who died for your sins on the Cross as your Savior. Then, find a pastor or Christian friend and share with him or her about the decision you’ve made.
Good Friday reminds us of our hopeless condition, condemned by our sins. It reminds us of the sacrifice God requires. And, most of all, it reminds us of our Savior who became our sacrifice, dying in our place and freeing us forever from the penalty of our sins.
Charles Wesley, the 18th-century Christian leader and hymn writer, put it well:
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
We celebrate this day because God loved us enough to give His own Son so that we could be restored into a right relationship with Him. This is why Good Friday truly is Good.