“Why do Christians call it ‘good’ Friday. It’s the day that they say Jesus died, so wouldn’t ‘sucky’ Friday be more apt?”
So was plastered in my Facebook Newsfeed. These were the words of an instructor I had during my Freshman year of university. She’s brilliantly intelligent, yet her question belied a lack of wisdom and understanding present in so many people in the modern world.
Is it really so hard to understand why Christ’s death on a Friday afternoon is “good?” True, it was gruesome and painful, unfair and un-just, and mortifyingly undeserved; but, it was good. It was His plan to sacrifice the breath in His lungs so that ours could be filled with fresh air. It was His pain which removes ours, and His trial which leaves us blameless. It is His death which grants us life eternal.
From the moment of Creation, we as Humanity have messed up our gift. We’ve torn it to shreds in the name of Power and Justice, forgetting that Mercy and Submission to others are vital to the Peace we claim to seek. God gave us free will, and we’ve used it to form our own path.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans, I have for you, declares the LORD. Plans for good, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” It is His plan which is for good, not ours.
Still, we have marched through the ages proclaiming the provident care which will protect our every move. We have harmed others in the name of God’s divine will, and cast judgement without seeking His peace.
Throughout the Old Testament, God showed Himself to numerous prophets, kings, and ordinary men. He was a burning bush to Moses, promising Abraham descendents as many as the stars in the sky; present with instructions in the visions of Isaiah and Ezekial, apparent in a cloud of protection over the wandering Israelites. Countless times, the Lord said, “here I am; trust me.” He showed Himself to humanity in ways that we understand: with righteous anger, judgement, and disappointment. Reading the Pentateuch is much like reading a very detailed account of every error made by a fool with a PhD.
Still, we couldn’t fathom His reasoning, couldn’t conceive of His undeniable desire to draw near to us. The Big, Booming God of the Old Testament is intimidating, impressing that “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10) Humanity proclaimed His power, but could not see His kindness. As was planned since breath was first drawn from Adam’s lungs, the LORD looked at His creation, and said, “I am not like You. Your ways are no longer My ways. I’m coming down there, so You can see my smile and hear my cries of mourning.”
Down He came, not as a warrior or a king; not as a priest or a powerful politician. He came as every Man does-a helpless baby- and was laid in a manger, where donkeys took their evening meal. He grew as all men do, taking his earthly father’s trade and working as a carpenter. At 30, he began a few short years of ministry which changed humanity. He challenged the religious and political authority of the day, was a friend to the prostitute and tax collector, healed the sick and cast out demons. If all Jesus ever did was roam the nations and heal the hurting, the world would call him “good.” But, He didn’t.
Instead, He stood trial for proclaiming who He was to the leaders who wished His influence away. He bled. He wept. He died a terrible, humiliating death, crushed beneath the weight of the world’s sins. The pain of betrayal, sting of hatred, and agony of defeat laid across his shoulders as He suffered for the sins which we commit daily.
Romans 5:7-8 says it best: “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
It’s beautiful, and heart-breaking. His death is my life. His agony is my freedom. He died so that we can live free of the wrath that is owed to our horrendous actions.
It was a “good” Friday which saw a sinless man die, and a joyful Sunday which saw His tomb empty.
We call it Good Friday, because a carpenter from Nazareth willingly gave His life in exchange for ours. God gave up His Son so we could call him “Father.” That is terrifyingly undeserved, but very, very good.