On Good Friday Christians commemorate the day on which the Son of God made man was humiliated, stripped, tortured, and, finally murdered on a cross.
Why is it called “Good” Friday? What “good” could there be in calling to mind that horrific day?
Roman Catholic Deacon Keith Fournier of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia writes at Catholic Online:
On Good Friday we are reminded that death is no longer the final word. For those filled with hope of the Resurrection, it is no longer an enemy but a friend, the passageway to life eternal. We are also promised that the suffering we are invited to bear, when joined to Jesus Christ, can become a vehicle for love and mercy. It can also become material out of which we are changed, by grace, into a reflection of Mercy Incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, for others.
Bruce Ashford – provost and dean of faculty at southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary – also wrote at Fox News in 2017 that Jesus’ crucifixion accomplished three “good” things:
- On the cross, Jesus suffered so that we would not have to suffer.
Christianity teaches that human beings are prone to sin. God – in his infinite mercy and love, however, does not want us to suffer the consequences of our sins.
“For that reason, he took on a human body and came to earth as Jesus,” Ashford wrote. “When he did that, he ‘traded places’ with us. He lived the sinless life that we should have lived, and died the death that we deserve to die. He took our guilty record, died for it, and offers us his perfect record in return.”
“That is why the apostle Paul declared that “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1),” he observed.
- Through the cross, we can be reconciled to God and each other.
Sin separates us from God and our loved ones, but Jesus our Savior teaches us the way to forgive ourselves and others. He helps us to make those relationships whole again.
“That is why the Bible says, ‘For it pleased the Father that . . . by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col 1:19-20),” Ashford observed.
- Because of the cross and resurrection, we have hope for the future.
“After Jesus suffered on the cross, he was buried, but on the third day he rose from the grave!” Ashford continued. “When he rose from the dead, he not only confirmed his divinity but declared that he would return one day to make things right.”
“It’s called Good Friday because even while powerful men were conspiring to kill the Son of God, God himself was acting to save the world from itself, once and for all,” he added. “Even while the world’s authorities were conspiring to perpetrate history’s greatest evil, God was working to bring about history’s greatest good.”
For Catholics, the Triduum of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil is actually one continuous service held on three consecutive days.
Holy Thursday teaches about the great gift of the Eucharist that reminds us Jesus is very real and present with us today in his Body and Blood. At his final meal before his crucifixion, Jesus also taught the importance of service to others through his washing of the feet of his disciples.
With Jesus’ suffering and crucifixion commemorated on Good Friday, the Church teaches that God has already saved us from sin, depression, fear, and worry. The followers of Jesus are already free because of his suffering.
On Easter, that message is made known to all as Jesus’ body is no longer “in the tomb,” but arisen and made new again, just as we are made new when we free ourselves from sin and despair in this life, and when we enter into eternity following our own death.
Christians the world over can celebrate Good Friday and know that it is indeed a very “good” day.